OLYMPIA, Wash. -- An Olympia nail and hair salon is pleading with city officials to break the law to preserve a cultural tradition.
Liz’s Hair Spa & Waxing Salon’s annual Lunar New Year Celebration can’t include firecrackers this year because of a city ordinance banning the sale & use of consumer fireworks.
“It’s sad. It’s part of our heritage, how we practice things and the way we celebrate,” said Dat Tran, co-owner.
Voters passed the ordinance in 2012, but Tran’s family was mistakenly issued a permit for last year’s celebration which featured food, dragon dances and 15,000 firecrackers.
“The firecracker is really the sound track of our new year like Christmas carols for Christmas,” said Tran.
According to Tran, in the Vietnamese & Chinese cultures, firecrackers symbolize a way to scare away all evil spirits and bad luck from the coming year.
“It’s an identifying characteristic of our people, we’ve embraced American customs and we would just like for our customs not to be lost,” he said.
According to Fire Marshal Rob Bradley, the ordinance intended to protect public safety has unintended consequences such as impacting religious or cultural events like Lunar New Year celebrations.
“It’s been going on for almost 1,800 years now since 2020 AD,” said Tran.
But the ordinance doesn’t discriminate; Bradley points out even 4th of July fireworks are illegal. Only shows put on by professionals are allowed.
“I can understand why it’s a safety issue and it’s a nuisance if it continues all night, but we are just asking for a five minute window,” said Tran, who’s asking city officials to make an exception.
While it may be too late this year, the Trans plan to petition city leaders to amend the ordinance to exclude religious or cultural celebrations so that the tradition can be restored.
“We hope, no hope no life right?” said Liz Tran, co-owner.
Even if the ordinance is amended, Bradley says under state law, firecrackers are illegal except on tribal lands.
The Tran’s Lunar New Year Celebration is Saturday at 11 a.m. in their salon’s parking lot.