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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, October 27, 2002

Lahaina gears up for Halloween madness

By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Island Editor

LAHAINA, Maui — Business owners in Lahaina are counting on a pent-up demand for Halloween madness to scare up a large crowd for the popular street celebration, which was hurt last year by the specter of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Mardi Gras of the Pacific

• Halloween night, Lahaina

Children's costume parade down Front Street and Halloween Arts Festival at Banyan Tree Park both start at 5 p.m.; Lahaina Arts Society's Spooky House of Horrors II in the Old Lahaina Courthouse, 5 to 10 p.m., cost $5; registration for Great Halloween Costume Contest from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with winners announced at 9 p.m. For more information, call the LahainaTown Action Committee Event Hotline at (808) 667-9194, or the Lahaina Visitor Center at (808) 667-9193, or visit the Web site.

The annual event — billed as the "Mardi Gras of the Pacific" — has attracted up to 35,000 people. Last year, with the travel industry suffering the aftereffects of the national tragedy, the crowd was closer to 20,000.

All signs this year point to a welcome recovery. Hotels in Lahaina town have been sold out months ahead of time.

Theo Morrison of the LahainaTown Action Committee, which coordinates the celebration, said with Halloween on a Thursday night, she's hoping revelers will turn the occasion into a three-day weekend.

"People love Halloween," she said. "They definitely come here from the Mainland just for Halloween."

The Halloween pick-me-up comes during the normally slow "shoulder months" between the summer and winter visitor seasons, said Mick Minicola, general manager of the 360-room Ohana Maui Islander on Waine'e Street.

"It's pretty much grown into an internationally recognized event," Minicola said. "Everybody has a waiting list."

The Maui Police Department also will be beefing up its work force for the event. At least 70 officers, most pulled from other sections, will be patrolling the party, said Lt. Hamilton Rodrigues. A five-block stretch of Front Street, along with portions of several side streets, will be closed to traffic starting at 3 p.m. Halloween day.

Officers will be confiscating any costume props that resemble weapons while trying to keep a lid on open lewdness and alcohol consumption. "The bottom line is a safe and fun event for everyone," Rodrigues said.

Police will not have a sense of humor about any antics that play on anxieties over the recent terrorist and sniper attacks, said Rodrigues, recalling an incident last year in which someone was throwing white powder into the crowd.

The real Maui police are not to be confused with the "costume cops," a new feature of this year's Halloween observance in Lahaina. Morrison said folks dressed in Keystone Cops outfits will be handing out masks to people who are not wearing costumes.

Other activities include a children's costume parade, the Great Halloween Costume Contest with a $1,000 grand prize, haunted houses, food booths, entertainment, the Halloween Arts Festival, last-minute Halloween makeup by show-business stylist Debra Rego, and a karaoke contest.