That’s right kiddies: The full and complete Halloween festivities that once crowned Lahaina the “Mardis Gras of the Pacific”—not seen since 2007—are coming back this year, according to a County of Maui press release sent out last night.
“It has been the desire of our administration to bring back a safe, fun, family-friendly Halloween event to Front Street,” said Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa in the news release. “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.”
Lahaina’s Halloween festival became controversial a few years ago for it not being sufficiently Hawaiian. Apparently, that’s not longer an issue—or rather, it’s not an issue with the current administration.
Frankly, no one said a word about Lahaina’s Halloween festivities until Charmaine Tavares became mayor. It’s pretty clear to old hands around the island that she didn’t like the street festival activities, and for all intents and purposes, she shut it down. Now that she’s no longer mayor, it should surprise no one that Arakawa—who campaigned on bringing Halloween back—has done so.
Anyway, the Maui Police Department will close Front Street between Baker and Prison streets from 3:30pm to midnight on Monday, Oct. 31. There’s also going to be the always cute Keiki Parade as well as keiki ghost stories, face painting, a costume contest and live music at Banyan Tree Park and Campbell Park. And yes, there will be official “Back on Front” Halloween merch for sale.
Because the press release also contains the statement that the county “will continue to work closely with Maui Police Department to ensure public safety in its highest form,” you can expect to see legions of Maui PD officers during the street festival.
So have fun, but please be safe. There will be additional buses running to and from Lahaina that night, and the county is asking Westside bars and restaurants to serve free soft drinks to designated drivers.
ALL HAIL COSTCO?
A friend of mine here on Maui recently tried to get a post office box. To do this, she needed to show two forms of identification. She first tried to give them her driver’s license and her Social Security card. They accepted the license, but not the Social Security card (it lacks the photo and physical description that make it a legal form of identification). In despair, she handed them her white Costco membership card, which on the back contained her name and a small, fuzzy black & white digital image of her face.
The top story in the Sept. 14 Maui News detailed how the Maui Planning Commission gave the unanimous go-ahead for Costco to expand its Kahului outlet to include a larger warehouse as well as a new gas station and car wash. That’s actually a small matter when compared to the revelation in the story’s fifth paragraph that Costco officials estimate that there are, presently, “as many as 91,000 Costco cardholders on Maui—almost 90 percent of the island’s adult population.”
This, I’m sure, surprises no one who has spent more than 30 seconds in a Maui grocery store. Still, I’m fascinated by the math here: 91,000 cardholders times a minimum $50 annual membership fee equals… roughly $4.55 million in annual fees alone Costco collects of island residents — and that’s assuming everyone opted for the cheapest membership package, which I’m guessing they did not.
So yeah, I guess holding a Costco card is like a special Maui ID. And yes, I too am a Costco member. But are we, in our zeal for low, low prices, moving that much closer to the terrifying future imagined by that great futurist Mike Judge, who in his ground-breaking film Idiocracy envisioned Costco as a kind of super societal hub, offering literally everything (including law degrees) anyone might want?
Then again, this might not necessarily be a bad thing. Costco may be a giant in the retail industry, but it also appears to be a fair employer. According to a June 22, 2011 Money & Business article, Costco pays its employees so well when compared to other retail giants that critics say it hurts the bottom line. The story, however, points out that Costco sees things very differently:
“However, Costco CEO, James Sinegal, views things differently. He believes that by paying employees higher wages than other companies in the same industry, he’s building a strong company that will last for years. His philosophy attracts and retains workers; Costco has a low turnover rate when compared to other companies, and employee satisfaction is generally high. This saves the company money in the long run, because they have to search for and train fewer workers.”
So there you go. I suppose we’ve had worse overlords in the past.
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GRIM ANIMAL MATH
Starting this year, the Maui Humane Society, a 58-year-old nonprofit that provides animal management services for the County of Maui, will release a statistical breakdown of its annual activities.
“It is our role, under the County contract, to accept all homeless, abused, unwanted, and abandoned animals on Maui,” said Maui Humane Society CEO Jocelyn Bouchard in a Sept. 15, 2011 news release. “We are the only agency on the island with this kind of open-door policy. When our shelter is full, we do not have the option to turn animals away. Thousands are adopted or returned to their owners through our programs; others, however, are euthanized when there is simply no more space.”
The numbers tell a grim story: of the 9,402 animals received during the 2010/2011 year, 5,174 animals were euthanized (167 of which were considered “healthy”). These numbers represent a slight improvement over previous years—the shelter killed 5,258 animals during the 2009/2010 year, and another 6,077 during the 2008/2009 year—but are nonetheless a stark reminder that huge numbers of residents continue to ignore pleas to get their pets spayed or neutered.