Popular Honolulu Festival Canceled Due to Coronavirus Concerns
Travel precautions in Japan are keeping some key festival workers out of Hawai‘i.
Photo: Courtesy of Honolulu Festival
Update as of March 3, 2020:
Organizers have canceled the entire festival to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus in Hawai‘i.
This story was originally published on Feb. 28, 2020.
First the opening reception. Now the fireworks show.
Honolulu Festival organizers announced Friday that they would forego the fireworks show, scheduled for March 8, because show technicians have decided not to travel abroad for the next two weeks. This comes just two days after organizers canceled the festival’s opening reception on Wednesday.
“We know this is disappointing news for the many people who were looking forward to this tremendous fireworks celebration and ask for everyone’s understanding,” said Hiroyuki “Keith” Kitagawa, president of the Honolulu Festival Foundation, in a statement Friday. "We completely support and respect the decision of the fireworks’ technicians and ask that others do so as well.”
Now in its 26th year, the Honolulu Festival typically attracts thousands of visitors from Japan, the Mainland and abroad who pack the Hawai‘i Convention Center and other venues in Honolulu. The fireworks show follows a parade down Kalākaua Avenue and caps off the three-day festival. Nagaoka Fireworks hosts the show as a symbol of peace between the sister cities, Honolulu and Nagaoka.
The event hosts dozens of groups from Japan each year, including hula hālau and taiko drummers. Organizers say the festival’s other events are still on.
As of this week, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hawai‘i. Japan’s elementary, junior high and high schools have closed through spring break. The U.S. State Department issued a Level 2 travel warning urging people to exercise caution when visiting the country.