VIDEO: Mayor Comments on Halloween Controversy
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By Wendy Osher
Below is an excerpt transcript from an interview conducted with the mayor concerning the upcoming county-sponsored Halloween in Lahaina event.
The interview was conducted on Monday, Oct. 22, four days before an appeal was filed by Kula resident Richard Dancil against the county, seeking a stay of the event. To view the interview in its entirety, click on the video to the left.
MN: Last year there was a lot of controversy surrounding the Halloween celebration. Can you tell us a little bit about this year’s event and how the mayor’s office is involved?
AA: Last year a lot of the Halloween controversy was sort of based on lack of knowledge and lack of information. We’ve always had Halloween. What the county has been doing is putting some order to the event and how people are behaving or not behaving. It has nothing to do with threatening historic sites, or anything like that.
It comes to protecting historic sites. It has to do with making sure that people there have enough police protection so we don’t run into people that are abusive or out drinking too much, or having lewd costumes. The police protection that we have there literally screens out a lot of the bad elements that would be there.
In a lot of the dark areas we’ve put up lights and we’re going to be continuing to do that, so that we have the ability to see what’s going on and to make sure that a lot of the mischief that used to go on, like excessive drinking or drugs, isn’t happening. Around the areas where we do have cultural activity that we want to preserve, we have additional security to make sure that nothing is disturbed. At least, take as much precaution as we possibly can.
For safety, by blocking off Front Street on Halloween, this allows the mass of people that are there to be able to be a lot safer without having to worry about vehicles, and without being shoved off the sidewalk, or getting into situations where it’s so crowded and congested that someone may get trampled. So every effort that we’ve put into the Halloween event has been preventative and has been to be able to build safety into the community.
There is nothing that we do currently in trying to make sure that Halloween is going to be better, that would be against any kind of cultural significance, or against anything that is what would be considered safer for the community. So, we’re continuing to do that.
We’re looking into all of the areas that we saw that may have some flaws last year–some areas were a little bit darker than we wanted. Some areas we need to have a little bit more protection. The transportation system–we need to beef it up a little bit.
We were able to close down the Halloween celebration at a reasonable time last year, and we’re looking at how we can do that much more efficiently. (We’re looking at) the keiki parade transition into the regular Halloween events for the adults. We’re working on trying to make that a smoother transition.
So, overall, we as a county and our administration and all of the personnel that are there are literally putting dozens and dozens more security to make sure that the event runs safer for the rest of the community. We’re going to continue doing that.
In the years where we didn’t have an official county presence, we then jeopardized all of the other things–we jeopardized the security of the people, the safety of people; we jeopardized the ability to protect all of the cultural artifacts and the cultural sites. We don’t want to do that.
So we’re going out of our way. This year I think people are understanding it a little bit better than last year when the critics were down there trying to find things that were going wrong, they found that we were controlling it fairly well and managing it a lot better than they had anticipated.
***The interview continues with questions about the anticipated crowd size, police presence, and added help of DLNR personnel. To view the interview in its entirety, click on the video above.