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Halloween to return to Front St.

County gets permits to shut road for festivities; Cultural Resources panel bypassed

The Maui News
September 16, 2011

By BRIAN PERRY - City Editor ( , The Maui News

LAHAINA - Maui County has obtained the permits needed to close down Front Street for Halloween festivities in Lahaina, the administration of Mayor Alan Arakawa announced Thursday afternoon.

But the festivities for Front Street are going ahead without the approval of the county Cultural Resources Commission, which denied a permit for Halloween activities there in 2008.

County Economic Development Coordinator Teena Rasmussen said Maui County now is named on the permit for the festivities along with the longtime event coordinator LahainaTown Action Committee.

County officials removed any element from the event that would trigger a review by the Cultural Resources Commission, she said. Those steps included the relocation of vendors away from the street and into Banyan Tree Park.

Pursuing the event as it was last done in 2007 would have taken it before the commission, where at least one opponent pledged to seek intervention.

Rasmussen said the county will work hard to manage festivities so that Halloween on Front Street is a "fun, safe, family-friendly event."

"We will be involved every step of the way," she added.

While the county encourages people to wear fun, innovative costumes, "leave the lewd costumes at home," Rasmussen said, alluding to community objections to what had become the "Mardi Gras of the Pacific," attracting as many as 30,000 people.

In a written statement, Arakawa said bringing Halloween festivities back to Front Street has been a goal of his administration.

"Our residents and merchants have asked for it, and my administration has worked hard with multiple community groups, organizations and government agencies to bring this event back," he said.

For pedestrian safety, Front Street will be closed from Baker to Prison streets from 3:30 p.m. to midnight on Oct. 31.

Front Street was closed for Halloween in 2007. In 2008, the county Cultural Resources Commission rejected a permit for the festivities after there were complaints about how celebrations had become too risque and offensive to Native Hawaiians in the historic district.

The slogan for this year's celebration is "Halloween is Back on Front."

Scheduled events will include the Keiki Parade, keiki ghost stories, face painting, costume contest and live music at the Banyan Tree Park. There will also be official "Back on Front" Halloween merchandise for sale.

To help ease parking and transportation logistics, the county will run additional bus routes to and from Lahaina on Halloween. The county also is asking Lahaina restaurants and bars to serve nonalcoholic beverages free of charge for designated drivers.

There will be additional lighting and restrooms placed throughout Front Street for the safety and convenience of those attending the festivities. Maui police officers will provide security.

The Halloween events are co-sponsored by the county and the LahainaTown Action Committee.

"We need to encourage these kinds of high-profile events in order to stimulate our economy," Arakawa said. "In these times of slow to no growth, we have to be aggressive at creating and promoting activities that will bring business to our towns."

© Copyright 2011 The Maui News.

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