WAILUKU, Maui — A state appeals court has refused to shut down Halloween festivities in Lahaina.
The Intermediate Court of Appeals has denied a motion by a Kula man to cancel the festivities.
Richard Dancil had asked that Wednesday’s Halloween activities be canceled until an appeal of a 2011 case against the event was heard.
Dancil filed the motion last week against Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, several of his departments and the Lahaina TownAction Committee — all of which are assisting or organizing the Halloween events.
Dancil and Native Hawaiian organization Na Makua O’Maui filed a lawsuit last year alleging that staging a large, drunken street party in Lahaina constituted a violation of Native Hawaiian rights. The lawsuit says Lahaina is a culturally sacred site.
Last year, a 2nd Circuit judge dismissed a temporary restraining order to stop the event, saying the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to file a lawsuit.
The festivities, sometimes referred to as the “Mardi Gras of the Pacific,” have drawn crowds of 20,000 people in previous years.
They started in the 1970s as an informal observance among town merchants, restaurateurs and residents.
Over time, they grew in popularity and became officially organized, with a children’s costume parade, entertainment, food and activity booths and a costume contest for adults.
The events bring a lot of business to Lahaina’s bars, restaurants and merchants.
But some residents complain public drunkenness, lewd behavior and risque costumes insult the legacy of the town as the former capital of the islands.
Lahaina town was designated a National Historic District in 1962.
Once the royal capital of Hawaii, Lahaina includes sacred burial grounds.
It also holds on to remnants of its role as a 19th-century whaling port, missionary outpost and plantation community.