Celebrating the 4th
|Iolani School Fourth of July Parade photo gallery|
If you were planning to go to Ala Moana Beach Park today, hoping to find a good spot to view tonight's fireworks show, you may be out of luck.
That's because thousands of people yesterday took advantage of an exemption to park rules that ban camping at the city park and claimed many of the best sites. By 7:30 last night, hundreds of tents of all sizes began to fill the park as residents decided they would rather spend the night than fight the rush of people and cars today.
The Magic Island show will be one of 13 fireworks displays statewide tonight, including six on O'ahu.
Tracy Kalaluhi of Kalihi Valley arrived at 6 a.m. yesterday and was one of the first to lay claim to a spot near the 'Ewa concession stand at Ala Moana park. She said it's a prime area because it has a big playing area for the children, has a nice tree for shade, and it's near the bathrooms.
Kalaluhi said she sat alone at the spot for several hours until family members started showing up later in the day to set up tents. She said other groups came by and were polite when she told them the spot was taken.
"Some people think we're crazy, but once they come, they change their minds," Kalaluhi said. "It's good fun, and people will be fighting tomorrow for spots. I guarantee that. And they're going to be fighting for parking, too."
Plus, Kalaluhi said, her family enjoys camping and usually lines up days ahead of the major holiday weekends to obtain city camping permits.
"It's tradition, time for the family to get together," she said. By the time the fireworks show begins, Kalaluhi said, she expects more than 50 people to join her at the site.
Three dozen police officers patrolled Ala Moana Beach Park yesterday, and as many as 130 will be there today, enforcing rules banning alcohol and illegal fireworks.
Police issued 15 citations for drinking at the park as of yesterday afternoon, but none for fireworks. The alcohol citations carry a $100 fine.
"It's probably the most expensive beer they're going to buy," police Sgt. Larry Santos said.
"We love it," said Steven Hoke, who arrived with his family at 10 yesterday morning to secure a camping spot. "It's safer. We have kids around here, and we don't want things getting out of hand."
Although people were allowed to camp, they were not allowed to park their cars in the park from 10 p.m. to 5 this morning.
Lance Davis of Makiki had set up camp near Kalaluhi's spot and said he was there from about 3 p.m. yesterday. This is the second year he and his family and friends spent the night to avoid the July Fourth crowd.
"The strategy is to come early and get the best spot," he said. "No need try find one spot (today), and plus we have a lot of people coming, so you gotta stake your spot early."
He said his group enjoys the fireworks show, and it has become a family tradition.
"The kids can come play, the beach is right there. It's a nice spot to come," Davis said.
Firefighters said fireworks are suspected of starting a brushfire near Diamond Head that burned about 200 square feet. It was quickly extinguished.