LAHAINA - Organizers for the Fourth of July Lahaina fireworks display were "confident" that they had all the money they needed for the $30,000 show that lit up west side skies Wednesday night.
"The fundraising is on par with what it was last year. We are confident we have all the money we need for this year," said Pamela Tumpap, president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce, which has been organizing and fundraising for the annual event for several years.
Tumpap on Wednesday afternoon was busy staffing the chamber booth on Front Street, which featured a prize wheel with prizes from Maui businesses.
People start to fill Front Street, which was closed to traffic late Wednesday afternoon, in anticipation of the annual Fourth of July fireworks show organized by the Maui Chamber of Commerce.
The Maui News / MELISSA TANJI photo
"Today is about enjoying the crowd and making it a great day," she said as the crowds started to gather in town.
Tumpap said the chamber's budget for the event was $51,000, with $30,000 for fireworks and the rest for off-duty police officers, port-a-potties, marketing and public relations, and other costs such as insurance and permits.
"The budget is based on the things we would like to do," she said, noting that they do not have to reach the $51,000.
As of Monday, the chamber had collected around $29,000. The total pledges stood as high as $38,000, Tumpap said. She had previously said that at least $42,000 was needed to cover all expenses.
"We are still collecting. We will be collecting after the fireworks. We will be accepting donations year-round," she added.
Tumpap said it's normal for the chamber to float money until the donations come in, and she wasn't too worried.
"The good news is we have a high rate of return," she said.
Last year, the event attracted 20,000 people. She said on Wednesday that it will probably take a couple of days to get an estimate on exact totals from the event.
Tumpap said that although putting on the event is hard work, attracting people to West Maui to spur economic activity is one of the things the chamber and its west side committee seek to do. She added that the event is a community effort, with help from businesses and organizations including the LahainaTown Action Committee, Rotary Club, Lahaina Restoration Foundation and The Wharf Cinema Center Shops & Restaurants.
At Campbell Park, LahainaTown Action Committee was selling hot dogs and drinks, and the Waiola Church, custodian of the park, was selling food, with proceeds pegged for children's charities. There was also music at the park as well as in other areas in town.
Representatives of Lahaina businesses said Wednesday that they were happy with the chamber's efforts.
"It's a great idea. It's something that needs to be done," said George Watson, a manager at Moose McGillycuddy's on Front Street. "It's the only fireworks (on Maui) on the Fourth."
Watson said the restaurant and bar sees its business triple from the fireworks event. He added that the business also donates money to the chamber for the show.
Another Moose McGillycuddy's manager, Tark Middleton, said that he anticipates the Fourth of July every year.
He said his business is filled before and after the fireworks show. "It's full throttle," Middleton said.
Diana Abilay, owner of the Sea Breeze store on Front Street, said that she had been donating money to the fireworks show for years, even before the chamber took over the event.
While she doesn't keep track of whether her sales increase on the Fourth of July, she is still happy to contribute "to get the community together."
"This is the only way people will come down (to Lahaina)," she said at her shop Wednesday afternoon.
Abilay said that she observed people wandering along Front Street several hours prior to the fireworks show.
One of those folks killing time prior to the fireworks was Thelma Bonner of Kahului, who brought her three sons to enjoy the festivities, including keiki games.
Even though she had to sit through creeping traffic from Maalaea to Lahaina, she said it was worth it "for the kids' fun."
"It's great to have some activities," she said.
Tumpap said businesses, organizations and individuals have donated to the event. The donations could range from $10 to more than $1,000.
"Everything means something to us," she said.
On Wednesday, the chamber was also selling Fourth of July event T-shirts and buttons and soda and water as a fundraiser for the event.
She said that the chamber's goal is to have a system in place so that the chamber will have enough money to eliminate the need to float any money.
The fireworks was not the only Fourth of July show in West Maui, as the Westin
Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas had an "eco-friendly" show of 60,000 fresh white and purple orchids showered onto resort guests from a helicopter Wednesday. There also were special yellow roses dropped that people could claim for prizes. The show was dedicated to members of the military.
To donate to the Maui Chamber Fourth of July event, call the office at 244-0081.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.