Hawaii's New Year's Eve Fireworks Traditions
JACKI LYDEN, host:
From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Jacki Lyden. 2009 is just around the corner, and Barack Obama plans to be in Hawaii to celebrate with his family. We were wondering what the president-elect might be doing to ring in the New Year. So, we called up DeSoto Brown. He works at the Bishop Museum Archives in Honolulu.
Mr. DESOTO BROWN (Archivist, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii): The first large immigrant group that came to Hawaii in the 1800s were the Chinese. And the Chinese brought with them a number of traditions, primarily the tradition of using fireworks.
LYDEN: OK, firecrackers, big deal. But think of everyone setting them off at the same time. Here is one of many videos you can find on YouTube.
(Soundbite of fireworks from a video on YouTube)
Mr. BROWN: What you will hear are scattered explosions going off for hours, gradually getting more and more numerous until finally, there is a tremendous culmination right at midnight. It is an amazing amount of noise and light.
LYDEN: And then, there's the smoke.
Ms. GENE EVANS (Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Hawaii): Often times, you can't even see across the street.
LYDEN: Gene Evans is the executive director of the American Lung Association in Hawaii. She says the air quality on the island of Oahu, normally pristine, plummets on New Year's Eve.
Ms. EVANS: We have routinely gotten a D in our air quality report for just that one night a year. So, we still recommend people stay indoors.
LYDEN: But still, a tradition is a tradition.
Mr. BROWN: To hear it, to see it, to smell it, and to breathe it, and even taste it in your mouth is very strongly associated, for all of us who've grown up here, with the entire New Year's experience.
LYDEN: Including, DeSoto Brown says, Barack Obama.
Mr. BROWN: It's a lot of fun. I mean blowing things up is fun.
LYDEN: By next weekend, Mr. Obama will be back in the upper 48 preparing for, among other things, his inauguration. And if you're planning a trip to Washington, D.C. to be here on January the 20th, we want to hear from you. However you're getting here, whoever you're traveling with, and any important stops along the way, please, we want to hear your story. Go to npr.org/dctrip, that's all one word, dctrip, and send us a note.
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