Maui Arts & Entertainment

Lahaina’s Halloween is back, but on smaller scale due to Maui police officer shortage

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File photo of Lahaina Halloween in 2018: Bryan Berkowitz / Lahaina Town Action Committee

After being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lahaina Halloween festivities are back this year, but with no adult party on Front Street due to the 25% shortage of Maui police officers.

The celebration will include the return of the 43rd annual Keiki Parade, but it will not include local reggae star Marty Dread’s annual “Night of the Living Dread,” which in the past has taken place on the patio of the Paia Fish Market property and spilled onto Front Street with dancing revelers.

Halloween morning, Dread posted a rant on his Facebook page:

“Due to being severely understaffed the Maui Police Department has asked me to NOT to do my annual Halloween “Night of the living Dread” show on Front Street in Lahaina tonight. They cannot manage the crowd because the street will NOT be closed this year. Everybody be safe out there tonight maybe I’ll see you next year if the county gets their s— together … so bummed right now you have no idea!!”

Sne Patel, president of the Lahaina Town Action Committee that organizes the Halloween celebration, said he doesn’t understand why Dread canceled so late considering the police made their decision weeks ago to only allow Front Street to be closed for the keiki parade, from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

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In early October, the Lahaina Town Action Committee and the Rotary Clubs of Lahaina announced the return of the keiki parade.

In past celebrations, the parade was followed by adult fun, with bands and entertainment, that ran deep into the night, drawing thousands of local and tourist revelers dressed in elaborate costumes.

Patel said while he was happy the keiki parade could return this year, it is a “bummer” that Front Street could not remain closed for the evening.

“We were advised, due to safety, that the police could not close the street down longer than the keiki parade,” Patel said.

To keep revelers and the community safe during past Lahaina Halloween celebrations, Patel said he was told a minimum of 90 officers were needed.

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“That’s a substantial amount,” he said.

The Maui Police Department has been steadily down about 100 sworn officers from its full staffing of 400 throughout the pandemic.

Patel said in the past some auxiliary or special officers have been moved into community units to work the Halloween event, but many of those officers have been moved to patrol because of the lack of staff.

For Halloween weekend and Halloween, Maui Police Department announced its Traffic Division will have “saturation patrols” out in full force. This includes impaired driving checkpoints. In 2022, Maui police have made more than 454 impaired driving arrests this year. There also has been a 14% increase in fatal motor vehicle crashes, with 80% being attributed to speeding and/or impaired drivers, the police said.  

What size crowds will come to Front Street tonight without the road closure is uncertain.

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There has been some miscommunication or misinterpretation as to what type of Halloween would take place in Lahaina for 2022.

The Maui Information Guide published in May 2022 said: “The largest celebration on Maui commences in the Historic Town of Lahaina. Halloween attracts over 20,000 costumed visitors to Front Street annually. This year, crowds are expected to exceed 35,000. Why Lahaina for Halloween? Since 1990, Lahaina has become the focal point of all Halloween activities. The town is set up really well to hold a large number of parading Halloween enthusiasts.”

The website allevents.in said: “There are crazy parties and Halloween events in Lahaina lined up this 2022.”

The Maui Express Shuttle, in its advertising for its Lahaina Halloween Shuttle 2022, said: “Lahaina Halloween on Front Street is happening this year! This will be the first Halloween celebration in Lahaina since 2019.”

On the website of popular Front Street bar Down the Hatch, it said: “Halloween 2022 is bringing back the party to Lahaina’s Front Street, and the best bar on Maui will be the creepy carnival that you are dying for. Pulling out all the stops and planning the spooktacular of the year.”

The Pacific Whale Foundation has two sunset cruises going to Lahaina for a two-hour stopover to “enjoy Lahaina’s Halloween festivities. Historic Lahaina town is known throughout the Pacific Islands as having some of the best Halloween merriment around.”

But Lahainatown.com let people know in early October that it would not be the same as in the past. “Without a doubt, the biggest and most celebrated holiday on Maui in years past has been Halloween. Unfortunately, there is no ‘boisterous street party’ planned for Front Street this year as the roads will be opened following the keiki parade unlike years past.”

So how many people will show up is not known.

Maui Police Department spokesperson Alana Pico said in an email: “Sworn personnel assigned to Lahaina that can work will be working tonight.”

Patel said: “We’re all partners in this, at the community level and the county level, and as someone who is a citizen of Maui nui. We all have to be partners when safety is in jeopardy. … We were told there is no way to sustain a long street closure. Fortunately, the keiki portion is allowed. So we’re showing some progress as we come out of a pandemic year.”

But Patel added the Lahaina Town Action Committee already has started to regroup for next year.

“We are letting the powers to be know, a year in advance, that we want a full, larger scale event for next year. That way it can be planned,” he said. “The community definitely loves this event, as traditionally done in the past, and we’re hoping to bring it back to that level as best as we can.”

Cammy Clark
Cammy Clark works for Maui Now as a news reporter. She has more than 30 years of journalism experience, previously working for the Miami Herald as the Florida Keys Bureau chief and sport writer, the Washington Post, St. Petersburg Times, United Press International, the Orange County Register and WRC-TV/George Michael Sports Machine. She grew up in New Hampshire and studied print journalism at American University in Washington, D.C., where she was the sports editor for the college newspaper, The Eagle.
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