WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Having spent the Fourth of July holiday rescuing hundreds of partygoers from a chaotic floatilla off Waikiki, law enforcement officers and emergency medical responders decided to take a different approach ahead of Monday's Labor Day attempt at a similar party.
They stopped it before it could even get started.
Dozens of Honolulu Police Department officers were called in on the holiday to patrol the shores of Waikiki in what some bystanders called a show of force – and others called excessive.
HPD was joined by DOCARE officers, the Department of Land and Natural Resources' law-enforcement branch, who patrolled the waters off Waikiki on jet-skis.
The message sent by law enforcement, as well as the lifeguards and paramedics who were stationed in Waikiki ahead of the event's planned 12 p.m. start, was simple: prevent what happened on Independence Day from happening again.
"We received some information that there was going to be a floatilla event," said Lt. Eric Yosemori, of the Honolulu Police Department. "So we planned and we brought in additional staffing to monitor, just to make sure everyone is safe."
The message stunned some partygoers who arrived to a less than expected turnout.
"I can't really tell exactly where the mass of people is. But no matter what we're gonna have a good time," floatilla participant River Nygard said as she walked up to the beach.
Some were deterred — and upset — by the heavy police presence.
"I think no matter what, you have a group of people that want to have fun, they want to party," Nygard said. "They want to enjoy the sunshine and the water. I don't think they're gonna stop that because I don't think that's a crime."
Underage partygoers who drank alcohol while attending the July 4 floatilla did break the law, and at least ten people among those who were rescued were taken to the hospital with alcohol-related injuries. A 19-year-old woman who was transported in critical condition.
By the early evening Monday, HPD made three alcohol related arrests at Kuhio Beach, and issued two other alcohol-related citations.
Ocean Safety officials say they conducted nearly 70 rescues across Oahu.
"I respect the officers. I like that they're here. It makes it safe," said Brooke Cheng, another would-be participant. "But if no one is doing anything wrong, I don't think there's a reason for them to all be here."