The annual Halloween celebration in Lahaina has been called the “Mardi Gras of the Pacific.” When day turns to night, with traffic blocked off, Front Street is transformed into Maui’s biggest adult party of they year. But, lets go back to the beginning.
The first “official” celebration of Halloween on Front Street took place in 1989. By 2007, Halloween easily became the biggest day of the year in Lahaina. Crowds were estimated to be between 20,000 – 30,000 people. Though never verified, it was thought that Halloween alone pumped $3 million into the local economy.
Back then, the evening started with a keiki (children’s) parade. Seeing the kids in their costumes was the big highlight for a lot people. As darkness set in, the crowd and the vibe of the event went from family fun to an alcohol-fueled mega-party. Unlike New Orleans, you weren’t allowed to drink alcohol on the streets. Still, blocking the streets from cars, led to a constant parade of barely clad men and women roaming Front Street.
Considering it an affront to Hawaiian culture, a group of cultural advisors asked local authorities to shut the party down. And in 2008, it did. The county no longer sanctioned the keiki parade, the costume contests, and most importantly, it left Front Street open to automobile traffic. In doing so, the county hoped to curtail the rowdiness. It was effective. Maybe too effective, as local business suffered a sharp downturn in revenue.
By 2011, Maui County was still feeling the effects of the downturn in tourism due to the ongoing recession. So the LahainaTown Action Committee and the Office of Economic Development relit the fuse on the Halloween party. Once again, the keiki parade led off the event, and as dusk settled the adults came out to play.
Today, the Keiki Costume Parade kicks off the annual Halloween celebration at 4:30 PM. The parade ends on the stage at Banyan Tree Park, where the children receive a ribbon and goodie bag. From there, the party rolls down the street to Campbell Park for live music. Once the sun goes down, it’s back to Banyan Tree Park, for more live entertainment and a costume contest for adults. Many of the bars and restaurants along Front Street host their own Halloween parties and costume and contests.
Though it hasn’t reached those peak, early-2000’s attendance numbers, the party is still the biggest of the year in Lahaina. If you’re attending this year, have fun and be safe!