Halloween in Lahaina will go on this year Thursday - without the legal protests of the past couple of years - as preparations are made for more than 30,000 revelers along Front Street.
The longstanding event that draws thousands from around the world and brings profits to restaurants and retailers in Lahaina was halted in 2008 when the county Cultural Resources Commission denied LahainaTown Action Committee a permit. There were complaints about the sometimes raucous and raunchy event held in a historic district, with a lack of sensitivity to Native Hawaiian culture.
In 2011, Maui County brought back organized Halloween activities, giving it a more family-friendly feel and cutting down on some of the raunchiness. Front Street again was closed for Halloween by revamping the event to bypass approval by the Cultural Resources Commission.
There have been legal challenges by groups and individuals the last two years, but each has been turned away by the courts.
Saying that he was not aware of any lawsuits this year, Rod Antone, county spokesman, said: "We are thankful, because we are working with the community."
"Hopefully, the reason there are no protests is because people see we have been having a fun and safe Halloween event on Front Street these last several years," he said.
Halloween in Lahaina, which includes children and adult costume contests, music and other events in Banyan Tree and Campbell parks, is being organized by the LahainaTown Action Committee and Maui County.
"Things are going really, really well," said a Lynn Donovan, executive director of the LahainaTown Action Committee, on Tuesday.
All the county departments are on board and the restaurants and businesses "are all geared up for another fabulous Halloween in Lahaina," she said.
Police are expecting between 30,000 and 35,000 people, more than the 27,000 people last Halloween. Derrick Lopez of the Lahaina Patrol District said earlier this month that the growth is because Thursday falls close to the weekend.
There will be more than 100 police officers in uniform and in plain clothes throughout Front Street and Lahaina town, he said. There also will be officers conducting drunken-driving patrols.
"This year's revelers are asked to please keep in mind good taste and judgment when wearing their Halloween costumes and displaying proper behavior in public," Lopez said. "Any form of nudity or public intoxication will not be tolerated."
Drinking of alcoholic beverages will not be allowed in public areas. Dogs also are not allowed except for registered service animals.
"In anticipation of this year's Halloween festivities on Front Street in Lahaina, we are asking for the public's cooperation and assistance in helping to keep it a safe and fun, family event," Lopez said.
With the closure of Front Street from Baker to Prison streets from 3:30 p.m. to midnight, traffic will be tight and parking limited. There will be no parking on that stretch during the closure.
Also, starting at 3:30 p.m. and continuing to 2 a.m. Friday, parking will be prohibited on the following adjoining streets - Dickenson Street from Front Street to the Baldwin House parking lot; Lahainaluna Road from Front to Wainee streets and Papalaua Street from Front Street to the entrance of Lahaina Center. Police said violators will be cited and towed at their own expense.
County officials urged Halloween-goers to carpool or to take buses that will operate from Wailuku and Kihei and throughout the west side.
Special buses will leave from the War Memorial parking lot in Wailuku and the Kihei Aquatic Center lot for the Halloween festivities. Buses leave at 6 and 6:30 p.m. from Wailuku and 4:30, 5:30, 6 and 6:30 p.m. from Kihei. The returns from Lahaina to Wailuku are at 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. and to Kihei at 9, 10, 11 and midnight.
The cost is $5 each way. Tickets will be on sale until noon Thursday. Riders may check in at Campbell Park to purchase return tickets on Halloween. Tickets may be purchased at Super Stop on Dairy Road and Blackie's Pit Stop in Kihei.
The Maui Bus also will be running throughout the west side and from Kahului and South Maui, said Antone.
The 35th annual Keiki Halloween Costume Parade begins at 4:30 p.m. at the corner of Front and Papalaua streets. The costumed children will march to Banyan Tree Park, around the harbor road and onto the stage, where they will receive a ribbon and a bag of treats.
Mayor Alan Arakawa and wife, Ann, and the Lahainaluna High School Marching Band will be participating.
The event is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise, the West Maui Soroptimists and the Lahaina Rotary Club.
Events for children at Campbell Park begin at 1 p.m. with face painting and photo opportunities with a mummy. Live entertainment in the park begins at 6 p.m. with the Benny Uyetake Band. There will be food for purchase as well. The park will close at 10 p.m.
Costume Contest Halloween will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Banyan Tree Park with signup starting at 6 p.m. at Pioneer Inn. The fee to enter is $20. The grand prize will be $1,000; Honu Seafood & Pizza and Mala Ocean Tavern kicked in the prize money.
DJ Ron will be spinning tunes at the Costume Contest from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
LahainaTown Action Committee will be selling the official "Halloween In Lahaina 2013" T-shirts, from noon to 10 p.m. at Campbell Park on Thursday. Revenues from the sales of the shirts, which go for $20, go to the Halloween celebration.
"It is an expensive event," said Donovan.
For more information, go to the LahainaTown Action Committee website at www.visitlahaina.com or call Donovan at 667-9175.
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.