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Monday, September 01, 2014         

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Firecracker sales for July 4 fizzle with new law

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

POSTED:


On the first day for firecracker sales, the sole end-of-the-row display at the Don Quijote store on Kaheka Street appeared neglected Wednesday as shoppers bustled between the magazine and sporting goods aisles.

Fourth of July fireworks

>> Firecrackers are the only fireworks allowed to be set off on Oahu on the Fourth of July.
>> They can be set off between 1 and 9 p.m. Monday only.
>> Sparklers, fountains and other fireworks are banned under a new city law.
>> Firecrackers can be purchased only with a permit obtained from the city but the permit deadline passed on June 23.

The good news for Don Quijote officials is that their three Oahu stores are the only retailers on the island where the fireworks can be bought legally for upcoming Fourth of July celebrations.

The bad news is the city sold only 93 of the $25 permits that allow residents to buy up to 5,000 firecrackers a pop, according to the Ho­nolulu Fire Department.

The low numbers all around indicate Monday will be a fairly quiet Independence Day, the first fireworks-oriented holiday since Oahu's new fireworks ordinance went into effect. The new law bars fountains, sparklers and other types of "novelty" fireworks. Only traditional red firecrackers are still allowed, and they can be bought only with a permit.

June 23 was the last day to get a firecracker permit.

Makiki resident Swinton Aniol, 43, found that out the hard way Wednesday afternoon while shopping for other items at Don Quijote.

Aniol said he thought the new law banned all fireworks, and only recently did he learn that he could still set off firecrackers.

Even then, "I didn't know I needed a permit to buy," Aniol said. For past holidays, he would buy sparklers and other novelties for Kiani, his 7-year-old son. He would also buy paperless firecrackers for himself since they did not require permits.

Aniol said he is not sure now what his family will do on Monday. Viewing the professional display at Ala Moana Beach Park is one option, he said.

Waikiki resident Roy Conklin, 86, said he is happy the new law will likely mean a much quieter Fourth of July celebration.

"I don't appreciate fireworks all that much," Conklin said, noting that his brother badly injured his hand as a child when he failed to release a firecracker before it exploded.

Liza Garcia, Don Quijote Hawaii advertising manager, said what firecrackers went on sale Wednesday was stock that had not been sold after the last New Year's holiday. The chain did not bring in any new merchandise to sell this holiday.

Garcia estimated the Kaheka store alone reduced its fireworks sales display by at least 5 to 10 feet. Without sparklers or other novelty items, only a small shelf of champagne poppers, mosquito punks and other items kept the firecrackers company.

While sales numbers weren't available Wednesday afternoon, "it's starting out a bit slow," she said.

Don Quijote officials are hoping sales pick up during the weekend, noting that firecrackers can be sold up until 8 p.m. on July 4.

That would leave an hour for them to be set off since the legal period runs from 1 to 9 p.m. on Monday,

People prosecuted for possessing or setting off fireworks illegally face a penalty of up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.






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