Festivals that shut down main Waikiki thoroughfare irk residents, business owners

Published: Mar. 4, 2019 at 5:28 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2019 at 5:29 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Each year, the city allows 15 events to close Kalakaua Avenue.

Event organizers participate in a lottery system for each of those spots. The rules say that each event or block party that is thrown must give something back to the community.

But those who have been following the issue aren’t sure that’s happening.

"I don't think there is any benefit to the business community and to the people who live here," said Waikiki resident David Moskowitz,

The Oahu Festival that took place Saturday night is just one of more than nine events scheduled this year by a single company: Millwood Ohana Productions.

Each festival will shut down Kalakaua through most of Waikiki.

“We asked Mr. Millwood’s representative for reports on what charities he gave to and still, I don’t know if they have been forthcoming with that,” said Moskowitz.

Concerned residents and Waikiki Community Board members feel that the owner of Millwood Ohana Productions is taking advantage of a loophole in the lottery system.

“The events that are occurring don’t have that same kind of cultural give back to the community that you see with events like Aloha Festival or the Honolulu Festival,” said Rick Egged, of the Waikiki Improvement Association.

For the most part, the people complaining aren’t hoping to do away with street festivals all together, citing the Aloha Festival and this month’s Honolulu festival as good events with a positive community benefit.

What they do want: “There needs to be tighter law in place that will ensure that this privilege of closing our streets to have a community-related event is not abused,” Egged said.

The Waikiki Improvement Association is working to change the rules and force event organizers to fully disclose how their festival gives back to the community.

They also want to decrease the number of overall closures on Kalakaua.

Hawaii News Now reached out to Millwood Ohana Productions on the phone, through e-mail and on social media, but did not receive a reply.

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