HONOLULU (KHON2) — Whether it is popping firecrackers to ward off evil spirits or pounding mochi to bring good fortune for the New Year, tradition is important for many families in Hawaii. Some of these traditions will continue amid the COVID-19 pandemic, just on a smaller scale.

On the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

For 29 years the Konko Mission of Wahiawa pounded mochi at their church ahead of the New Year.

“These memories have been really passed down, year after year, and to just skip it for this one year because of the pandemic, we just couldn’t let that happen.”

Edna Matsuoka, Konko Mission of Wahiawa

They would usually make about 38 to 40 batches, but with fewer helpers to pound the mochi, they only made about eight for this year. Edna Matsuoka said, it is important for them to keep the tradition going even if it is smaller.

“I think that will bringing energy, energy into your household energy into your life, and then I think you’ll have a wonderful year to look forward to next year,” said Matsuoka.

Most of the mochi will be sold to members, but they are opening sales to the public. They will also be pounding mochi on Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel and Sunday, Jan. 10, at the Moana Surfrider for anyone interested in learning the process.

One major event that will be missed this year is the huge fireworks show off the shore of Waikiki. The spectacular show was canceled for the first time in 18 years.

“The celebration of New Year’s Eve is going to be very muted this year,” said Tommy Likos, Fireworks by Grucci executive producer.

Likos said on a normal year, he would already be down on a boat to set up for the fireworks show, but with large gatherings prohibited and money tight for entertainment, it was a no-go.  

“We’ve tried working on something that we could do you know that would satisfy everyone, but restrictions, the COVID restrictions are just too tough right now to do that,” said Likos.

He said, it will be a major loss for families who look forward to the event every year.

“That thump in your chest, when the fireworks go off and filling the sky? You know, that’s something that you can’t duplicate on a computer screen or a TV screen.”

Tommy Likos, Fireworks by Grucci Executive Producer

Many are hopeful 2021 will bring back celebrations even bigger and better.

“We hope everyone has the happiest new year they can this year and we’ll work to make sure that next year’s fireworks are more spectacular,” said Likos.

Latest Stories on KHON2