Fourth of July celebration in Kailua lives on

Uncle Kokua

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Fireworks will light up the sky in Kailua on the Fourth of July thanks to a resident who donated $25,000.

They call him Uncle Kokua — a fitting name for someone who will help save the annual tradition.

It’s not the first time he’s pitched in to help others.

With the donation, it’s all systems go for the fireworks show.

The 65-year tradition in Kailua was broken last year because there wasn’t enough money.

Uncle Kokua, who lives in Kailua, says it would be a shame to cancel the show again because he always looked forward to it as a child.

“Not having the fireworks would be like having Christmas without Santa Claus. You just can’t do it,” Uncle Kokua said.

The self-made multimillionaire is a real estate investor known for his generosity. He was featured in a national TV show and a local show giving money to those in need.

When he heard that the Kailua Fireworks Committee needed $25,000 on top of the $31,000 that was already raised, Uncle Kokua wrote the check.

“I was so elated I almost fell off my chair. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘How lucky we are that Uncle Kokua lives in Kailua?'” Kailua Fireworks Committee member Jana Holden said.

The donation came just in time since the money had to be collected by the end of the month.

However, time is running out to save the fireworks show in Hawaii Kai. Organizers have to raise $45,000. They got a boost when an anonymous donor pledged to give half of it, but only if they could raise the other half. Currently, they are $7,500 short and the money must be collected by Friday.

“I just feel that with all the people around Hawaii Kai and the business people out there they could come up with that amount of money. A thousand dollars by seven people would do it,” event chairwoman Dianne Glei said.

Anyone who’d like to donate to the Hawaii Kai fireworks show can call (808) 224-8357.

As for the organizers of the Kailua fireworks show, they plan to do their fundraising throughout the year, so it won’t have to come down to the wire.

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