For more than 65 years, Kailua Beach has been the center of a spectacular fireworks display each 4th of July evening. For most of its history, the show was launched from Flat Island across from Kailua Beach Park. In 2000, a “twilight air show” was added, featuring aerobatic performances by two local pilots. In 2002, in consideration for environmental concerns, the platform for the fireworks launch was moved from Flat Island to a mobile barge, adding significantly to event expense.
In 2005, after more than 50 years of sponsorship, the Kailua Chamber of Commerce elected to focus exclusively on the 4th of July parade, leaving sponsorship of the fireworks display and twilight air show to others. From 2005 to 2011, leadership and sponsorship of the fireworks display and air show migrated among various committed companies and individuals. In 2012, such support faltered and the fireworks display was cancelled. It was a wake-up call for the community as many people were disappointed.
In 2013, a group of eight Kailua residents established a corporation, secured IRS 501(c)4 status, organized a grass-roots fundraising effort, and raised more than $60,000 to fund the display. All governmental requirements, logistical challenges, and safety considerations were met and the display was a great success.
The foundation for the continuation of both the fireworks exhibition and air show is now in place. The next step is sustainability and gradual build-up of a reserve to ensure that the fireworks and twilight air show events will continue.