WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The college spring break beach party known as Floatopia drew an estimated 200 to 300 people to Kaimana Beach in Waikiki Friday. But it also drew dozens of law enforcement officers as well.
This is the third year that the event has been held in Waikiki. Party-goers gathered on the sand and played on "floaties" in the water. Police were present as well, patrolling on personal watercraft.,
"They just kinda stay back and hang out," said University of Hawaii student Brendin Brown, who has been to previous Floatopia events. "They're just patrolling and doing their job. They don't want anybody to get hurt. But as long as they stay out of our way, it's all good."
The first Floatopia at Magic Island in 2011 drew about a thousand people and took police by surprise. Videos taken at the event showed a lot of drinking, including drinking by minors. Police said things had gotten out of control by the time they arrived. Officers, stepped up their presence at Magic Island the following year. Partiers moved to Kaimana Beach instead.
First-timers at Kaimana this year said they were having fun. "A lot of people ended up coming, which I wasn't expecting, but it's awesome. It's a good time," said U.H. student Alex Farali.
Party-goers said they heard about Floatopia mainly via Facebook. But there were other Web sites that advertised the event, with organizers trying to keep the location under wraps until the last minute, "so we don't get our party ruined by the cops so fast," said one site.
"At first I was kinda bummed," said U.H. student Lily Behn, "but it's okay because there's lots of people in the water that are kinda drunk, and it's okay that the cops are here because they'll make sure that everybody's safe, and if anything bad happens, they're here."
Police said they made at least one arrest and issued about 25 citations for drinking at the event. There were also officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which had considered rules to restrict such beach parties, but hasn't taken any action for now.
One of the organizers said Floatopia -- and a police presence -- are probably here to stay. "The cops gotta do what they gotta do," said Moose Pulsiver. "It's fine. It's kinda nice to have them here as a kind of support in case something goes wrong in the water. But they really don't seem to be doing much to antagonize them. So it's all kinda like a balance."