Even though chef and businessman Mark Ellman doesn't make a dime at his Lahaina restaurants on Halloween night, he still continues his long-standing tradition of donating $1,000 toward the town's organized Halloween event on a night that is one of the busiest days for many of the town's restaurants and bars.
Ellman said he has been forking out $1,000 as the grand prize in the annual costume contest for at least a decade, also when he owned other restaurants in Lahaina.
But since his newer restaurants Mala Ocean Tavern and Honu Seafood & Pizza are on the outskirts of town, where no one ventures on Halloween, he shuts down shop that night and lets his employees enjoy the evening.
Costumed revelers walk along Front Street during Halloween festivities last year in Lahaina.
The Maui News MATTHEW THAYER photo
"Even though we lose money that day, I feel it is (an) important enough event that I continue to sponsor it," he said last week.
He confessed that as a longtime Lahaina resident who worked his way up the career ladder in town, the donation is "sort of warm and fuzzy" to him, as his two daughters have entered the organized costume contests and have marched in the annual keiki parade.
"I feel it is very important to sponsor community events."
Halloween in Lahaina 2012
* 3:30 p.m.-midnight, Front Street closed from Baker to Prison streets; no parking.
* 4:30 p.m., 34th annual Keiki Costume Parade.
* 6-8:45 p.m., costume contest registration at a Pioneer Inn retail store on Hotel Street.
* noon-10 p.m., official "Halloween in Lahaina" T-shirts on sale.
* 3 p.m, food, keiki activities, face painting and photo opportunities.
* 6-8 p.m., live music featuring Whiskey Pimps.
Banyan Tree Park
* 6:30-9:30 p.m., music by DJ Ron from 007 Productions.
* 7-9 p.m., costume contest.
* 9:30 p.m., costume contest winners announced.
* Transportation between Wailuku and Lahaina and also between Kihei and Lahaina. Cost is $3 one way. Ticket sales will close at 6 p.m. Oct. 30. First come, first served. Tickets are on sale at: Super Stop, 370 Dairy Road, Kahului; Blackie's Pit Stop, 30 Manao Kala St., Kihei; Old Lahaina Courthouse; and Lahaina Visitor Center (return tickets only). Any remaining return tickets will be available at Campbell Park on Oct. 31. Tickets cannot be purchased at bus pickup points.
Extended Maui Bus
* For Kaanapali Islander Route 25 and Napili Islander Route 30.
No advance purchase required. $2 each way or $4 unlimited day pass.
As a repeat of last year, Maui County is co-hosting the Halloween events in Lahaina with the LahainaTown Action Committee. There will be entertainment, a costume contest, children's activities and the 34th annual Keiki Costume Parade sponsored by Soroptimists of West Maui, Rotary Club of Lahaina and the Lahaina Sunrise Rotary. Special bus transportation will be provided in part by Fleetwood's on Front Street.
Brianne Savage, sports and entertainment specialist with the county's Office of Economic Development, said last week that the county is providing a $15,000 grant to LahainaTown Action Committee to assist with the organizational support and execution of the event, which includes portable restrooms, lighting, trash removal, street cleanup and event marketing.
After a several year hiatus, in 2011 Mayor Alan Arakawa pushed to bring back the organized events to the town as the county Cultural Resources Commission had prevented having Front Street closed to traffic. The commission denied permits after complaints from kupuna and some Native Hawaiians about lewd costumes and disrespectful behavior in the historic district.
Arakawa's administration, last year and this year, was able to bypass the panel by planning Lahaina Halloween activities that would not require commission approval.
The administration touts the event as family-friendly.
"These are the sorts of events that we want on Maui, good for our small-town businesses and communities," Arakawa said in a release. "Because of Halloween on Front Street last year, our shops, hotels, restaurants and bars made money, our local families had fun and many of our visitors booked return trips to come back for Oct. 31 again this year.
"We are hoping for another fun and safe event for everyone this year," Arakawa said.
There was a last-minute challenge last year to stop the planned celebrations, but it was denied in 2nd Circuit Court.
County spokesperson Rod Antone said last week that the county has not received any challenges as of yet.
Because Front Street was closed and organized public events were held in town last year, Front Street merchants reported an increase in sales from 20 to 41 percent compared to the four previous Halloweens without the closure and events.
The Hard Rock Cafe on Front Street is hoping that Halloween this year will be a good business night.
"This is the busiest night of the year," said General Manager Brent Rumph.
This will be Rumph's second Halloween in Lahaina, but he said that from last year, he heard all of the issues and concerns by people around town and, like last year, he wants to make sure his events are respectful and said the restaurant would provide a safe environment for revelers.
"It's busy, (but) the sales will come. You have to do it the right way," Rumph said.
He said his restaurant will not bend rules or do things differently to drive in more sales.
"That's not our mentality," he added.
The restaurant will have security present to make sure everyone has fun and is safe in and immediately outside of the restaurant.
Rumph said the eatery will not tolerate inappropriate dress or disrespectful behavior.
The restaurant will also have a "grab-and-go" station outside the restaurant so customers don't have to wait in the sometimes long lines to dine inside.
Rumph said Hard Rock will be cooking up burgers, hot dogs, and also offer chips and sodas outdoors.
Inside and out on the patio will be dinner service. But at 9 p.m., the inside of the restaurant will turn into a festive "Nightmare on Front Street" event for adults and will include a disc jockey.
The patio will continue to serve food, Rumph said.
The restaurant has also made a donation to the Halloween efforts around town, he added.
The Wharf Cinema Center is also gearing up for Halloween, as it has done for more than 28 years, said Donna Soares, the center's general manager, in an email.
There will be a keiki karaoke costume contest and an adult "Ghoulish Gala" karaoke costume contest.
There will be trick-or-treating in the stores and face painting all day along with photo opportunities for families who visit the center's Halloweenville on the lower level of the mall.
Soares said that although the center's shops are scheduled to close by 5 p.m. on Halloween, the restaurants will be open and will offer specials.
"Halloween, although not a heavy retail day, is an exceptionally great day and night for all of our restaurants and bars, as well as for most of the hotels and condos in the surrounding areas," Soares said.
She was also pleased that the county was again supporting the organized events in town.
Lynn Donovan, executive director of LahainaTown Action Committee, is also "thrilled" to be co-hosting the event and expressed her thanks to merchants donating time and money to the event.
The committee will be selling the "official" Lahaina Halloween T-shirt at the Old Lahaina Courthouse to cover expenses. The shirts can also be shipped. Call 667-9193 for more information.
Donovan said that the committee is seeking other donations to help defray costs.
"Halloween is financially the biggest night of the year for many of our Lahaina businesses; they are very excited to have it back."
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.