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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 11, 2003

Pride 4 Ewa fair draws 10,000

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Leeward O'ahu Writer

'EWA — An estimated 10,000 people descended yesterday on West O'ahu's Geiger Park for the second annual Pride 4 Ewa day. The family festival featured everything from pony rides to 'ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro, inflatable attractions to two rock-climbing walls, and more than three dozen food and craft booths.

Zainna Benigno, 7, of 'Ewa, shoots toward the sky on the Euro Bungy ride, which uses bungee cords — controlled by the operator — to bounce the rider high into the air. The attraction was featured at the Pride 4 Ewa community festival yesterday at Geiger Park.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

For Zainna Benigno, 7, the thrills were best achieved at the slingshot Euro Bungy that catapulted all 60 pounds of her some 40 feet into the air.

After the three-minute bounce session ended, Zainna was ready to go again. But her dad, Rhad Benigno, 24, who weighs 220 pounds, declined to be strapped into the harness himself — although the ride operator assured him the bungee cords could handle the load.

Some older kids seemed to be even more delighted by the activities than the youngsters. Kehaulani Lobetos, 21, all but admitted that she brought her 4-year-old nephew, Jacob Decker, to the 36-foot spiraling Turbo Slide simply as an excuse to hurtle down the speed ramp herself.

"Looks like fun," she said with a laugh.

The popular celebration was an extension of the former Family Fun Fairs staged at the park for five years running. But the focus has changed slightly, organizers said.

"I was involved with the last Family Fun Fair two years ago, and last year kicked off the first Pride 4 Ewa celebration," said Suzanne Alawa, general manager with the Ewa by Gentry Community Association. "And the reason we changed it is that we partnered with the Gentry Homes, the Coalition for A Drug Free Hawai'i, and also with the Hawai'i Weed & Seed program, because 'Ewa has become such a focal point for drugs."

Charline Harris cooks up a batch of malassadas under the Uncle Herbie's "Da Best" Malassadas tent at the Pride 4 Ewa family fair at Geiger Park. The event featured music, rides, games and food.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Although the emphasis was on old-fashioned fun, food and games, Alawa said the fair's other focus was on the numerous organizations under the Community Activities Tent — such as Honolulu Police Department's DARE program — that were there to educate and present an alternative to drugs.

"As you look all around you are going to see resources for kids. Get the kids off the streets, get the kids off drugs, get them a little more direction for their lives. That's the idea — from the little kids to the big kids."

Some had come to promote the area. State Sen. Willie Espero, D-20th ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu), took the opportunity to rattle off a litany of reasons he believes West O'ahu is destined to be the crown jewel of the island.

"You know, May is West O'ahu Month," he said. "Last week was Sunset on The Plains, today is Pride 4 Ewa day and next week is the Ko Olina Boat Show and Ocean Expo.

"I promise you that in five to 10 years, this will be the best place to live on O'ahu, because of Ko Olina Resort, Kapolei, UH West O'ahu, 'Ewa Marina and all the new homes and schools being built out here. There are just a whole lot of new things to see in this region. West O'ahu is where it's at."

"I promise you that in five to 10 years, this will be the best place to live on O'ahu," said Sen. Willie Espero.

Advertiser library photo

Before moving on, Espero voiced his oft-repeated vow that one day a passenger steam train would again run from the North Shore to the 'Ewa Plain, à la the heyday of sugar magnate Benjamin Dillingham.

Event organizer Alex Rodriguez said virtually the entire festival had been community organized and operated.

"Practically everybody here lives in the community," he said. "Crafters come from all over, of course. All but one of my food vendors is from here."

Pride 4 Ewa and its predecessor, Family Fun Fair, have been one-day affairs, Rodriguez said. But next year he is motivated to double the pleasure.

"If I can get the volunteers, I plan to have it two days," he said.