Halloween in Lahaina, Maui

Back on Front Street Again for 2016

Halloween in Lahaina
Photo by John Fischer

Halloween is back on Front Street in Lahaina in 2016. For the sixth time since 2007, Lahaina will host an officially sanctioned Halloween celebration on Monday, October 31, 2016.

Before we look at the details of what will take place during Halloween in Lahaina in 2016, we need to look back a bit to see what transpired over recent years that has allowed this popular annual event to once again take place.

The Mardi Gras of the Pacific: 1989-2007

From 1989 to 2007 the biggest day of the year in Lahaina was Halloween. At its height upwards of 30,000 people crowded the Front Street area pumping an estimated $3 million into the local economy. For Lahaina shops, restaurants, bars and local hotels this was a much anticipated celebration.

While the annual keiki or children's parade was delightful, things changed after dark when too many adults, often having to much to drink, showed up in rowdy groups and wearing insensitive and sometime lewd costumes. The last time my wife and I attended Halloween in Lahaina we left shortly after the keiki parade and a brief visit to Banyan Tree Park for a bite to eat and a sampling of the entertainment.

The event had become known as the "Mardi Gras of the Pacific" and the organizers did little to discourage that name and the image that it brings to mind.

All of that changed, when in 2008, Maui's Cultural Resources Commission voted to revoke the Lahaina Town Action Committee's permit for the organized Halloween celebration after a number of leaders of the Native Hawaiian community spoke out against the event claiming it had become too rowdy, risque and culturally insensitive. Quite frankly, many of the objections were justified.

No Official Celebration: 2008-2010

Thus, it was not a total surprise when the Commission took the action that it did. I would have preferred that they had worked with the County and Lahaina Town Action Committee to reign in some of the event's excesses, but that was not to happen.

From 2008-2010, no official event took place although the keiki parade continued and many of the local bars and restaurants sponsored their own costume contests and parties.

There was no officially sponsored costume contest, no food & beverage booths in Banyan Tree Park (which raised funds for nonprofits), and no outdoor live music.

The Event is Reborn: 2011

In 2011, hearing the call once again for an official celebration from local residents, businesses and island visitors, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa along with the Maui County Office of Economic Development and its coordinator Teena Rasmussen worked with the Lahaina Town Action Committee to secure the necessary permits to proceed with an officially sanctioned event that would be a "fun, safe, family-friendly event.".

It should be noted that the event took place despite the objections of a number of Native Hawaiian groups and without a review and approval by the Cultural Resources Commission.

In the official announcement of the 2011 event by the Lahaina Town Action Committee, Mayor Arakawa explained the County's decision, "It has been a desire of our administration to bring back a safe, fun, family-friendly Halloween event to Front Street. Our residents and merchants have asked for it, and my administration has worked hard with multiple community groups, organizations, and government agencies to bring this event back."

Ms. Rasmussen explained in a story in the Maui news that the county would be heavily involved in the event to ensure that the 2011 celebration was a "fun, safe, family-friendly event."

The 2011 and 2012 events passed the test and it seems, at least for now, that the event has indeed been reborn.

Details of the 2016 Event

This year's event will kick off at noon in Campbell Park when official 2016 t-shirts go on sale. Proceeds from sales of the 2015 T-shirt will benefit the 2016 Lahaina Halloween Celebration. Those sales will continue until 10:00 p.m. At 4:00 p.m. food, face painting and activities for the children will also begin at Campbell Park.

The 2016 celebration will then get into full swing with the 38th annual Keiki Halloween Costume parade sponsored by the Soroptimists of West Maui, the Lahaina Rotary Clubs and the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii.

Children will meet at 4:15 p.m. near the Papalaua Street intersection to line up for the parade. The parade itself begins at 4:30 p.m., proceeding along Front Street, past the Wharf Cinema Center and ending at the Banyan Tree Park. The festivities will include The Lahainaluna High School Marching Band. Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and his wife Ann will be participating in the festivities.

A stage will be set up where children can show off their costumes, receive a ribbon for participating and a free bag of goodies to start off their night of trick-or-treating.

There will be additional lighting and restrooms placed throughout Front Street and the Maui Police Department will be on hand in force.

The evening activities will begin at 5:00 p.m. at Campbell Park with live music until 9:00 p.m.

Over at Banyan Tree Park, DJ Serna will host music from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

From 6:00 p.m. until 8:45 p.m. an adult costume contest will take place on a stage under the Banyan Tree. The winners will be announced at 9:30 p.m. Registration for the costume contest ($20 dollars per person) will be at the Pioneer Inn Retail Store on Hotel Street between 6:00 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.

Tips for Those Attending in 2016

Here are a few tips for those attending Halloween in Lahaina:

  • Plan to arrive before 3:00 p.m. is you want to try to get one of the hard-to-find parking spaces in town. Otherwise, you'll need to park outside of downtown Lahaina and take a short walk into town. The Lahaina Cannery Mall is located on the north end of town which is about a 15 minute walk from downtown.
  • Front Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from Baker to Prison Street from 3:30 p.m. until midnight. No parking will be available on Front Street.
  • To help ease parking and transportation concerns the County will be shuttle buses to and from Lahaina on Halloween from Central and South Maui. You can view details of the shuttle service on the Halloween 2016 Transportation Information Page.
  • Wear comfortable shoes since you will likely be standing for most of the afternoon and evening. Keep your wallet and purses in a safe place especially if the crowds are thick since pick-pocketing can happen.
  • Be sure to bring candy for the trick-or-treaters and don't forget your camera.
  • If you plan on eating a full meal in town, consider doing so mid-afternoon or be prepared for long lines after the Children's parade.
  • If you wear a costume, please keep it in good taste.
  • If you decide to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The County is also asking local restaurants and bars to serve non-alcoholic beverages free of charge for designated drivers. Underage drinking is prohibited. Alcohol consumption on the street is prohibited. Public nudity is prohibited.

    Get a feel for what you might see with our gallery of photos from a prior year's celebration.

    Front Street is Lahaina was, in 2011, designated as one of the Great Streets in America by the American Planning Association.

    In their designation, the APA states that "Front Street packs in everything that makes Lahaina, Lahaina: wooden storefronts, second-story balconies, public parks, art galleries, eateries, residential quarters, whale-watching tourists, children scurrying to and from school, elderly couples taking early-morning walks, bicycles and vehicles sharing the road, divine views of the majestic West Maui Mountains, Lahaina Harbor and island of Lanai, and an archeological site dating to the year 700."