I had no idea what went on the first New Year’s Eve I lived here. I was working my way through college as a cocktail waitress at Bobby McGee’s and was in a nightclub the whole night. However, the following year I was off and went to a party with a guy I was dating. New Year’s Eve parties over here are family affairs. They are giant potlucks. Board games are played at card tables. Children and teens and adults who like things that go boom are thrilled with the fun of setting off skyrockets, fountains, spinners and sparklers. Women from several generations tend to hang at the tables, organizing games and chatting for hours. Dads, Uncles, and grandfathers watch over the fireworks tables set up in garages and make sure that the children and teens don’t bring matches or lit punks into the area. Children set off fountains of fun for hours.
The evening is centered around fireworks. Firecrackers. Sparklers.
Have been told it is the Asian influence in Hawaii. The noise and flash has something to do with clearing out the past and making way for good fortune in the year to come.
The island looks like Main Street at Disneyland from about an hour before dark (think anxious teens who sneak one or two off when no one is looking) until well past midnight.
Fireworks are legal and sold EVERYWHERE. From fireworks stands set up in parking lots to each and every grocery store on the island. Firecrackers of a certain disciple need a permit, which is fairly easy to obtain.
“Illegals.” Those professional only fireworks shot from a cannon like cylinder up into the sky. Yeah, black-marketed like crazy and it seems someone on every block is privy to how to get them.
I leave my house with my potluck dish around sunset, and as I drive across the island to my friend’s party, my kids (now 20 and 17) shout with excitement as blasts of color bursts go off left and right and ahead and behind as we drive.
My friend lives on a hill overlooking Waikiki, Kaimuki, and Kahala. She has a deck set up with tables and chairs and a buffet of yummies to last the night.
Her carport has a ping pong table for the teens. Along the side everyone leaves a contribution to the fireworks fun.
The kids this year range in age from 12 to 19. There are ten of them. The house next door has another six teens and four kids around ten. Eventually the two groups hook up and share ideas for fireworks adventures.
The home I went to for years (their kids are 23 and 20 and off the island so they stopped hosting the party), well at this house, the dad challenged his son and his sons’ friends with building a house that would not blow up. The boys and the dad would spend the day constructing buildings that looked like doll houses. They would put these houses on a table set in the street and drop firecrackers into them all evening until the houses disintegrated one by one. The last house standing would win. The dad is an engineer and he always won.
Every house hosting a party saves their best fireworks and a “25,000” string of firecrackers until the big show stopper at midnight. The homes with the illegal aerials and skyrockets save enough for a grand finale. This year, it was like a competition to see who could put on the best show.
While the adults stood in the yard admiring the skyrocket extravaganza, the teens had put together a roller coaster of firecrackers down the street, complete with fountains and spinners.
A good time was had by all.
If you book a vacation during New Year’s, get a room with a balcony facing mauka (mountain). Town is where the real show is this night.
Driving home, back across the island, it is like patches of fog. The smoke from the firecrackers is that thick. This is not a vacation for someone with asthma.
Oh. And the crowd young enough to go a night without sleep? They watch the sunrise on the first day of the new year from the east side of the island. Daughter and friends went to Lanikai.
This post is linked with Sundays in My City. Head on over for more unique photo tours.