'Floatopia' drifts to new location with police in tow

Honolulu Police Capt. Ryan Borges
Honolulu Police Capt. Ryan Borges

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A spring break beach party for college students went ahead as scheduled, despite a big police presence that forced it to move to a new location.

"Floatopia" was scheduled for Magic Island, where it was held for the first time in Hawaii a year ago, when about a thousand people showed up.

The Facebook page for this year's event invited people to "bring your floats and your drinks and start your spring break off the right way!" But it also cautioned people to bring drinks in "discreet containers such as plastic bottles or cups."

"We weren't really aware of what was going on, it just happened," said Honolulu Police Capt. Ryan Borges, who said there was a lot of drinking -- especially underage drinking -- at last year's event. "And by the time we got here it was kind of out of control already. We had a lot of people passed out because of dehydration and alcohol poisoning."

This year, police, ocean safety lifeguards, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Emergency Medical Services personnel were all at Magic Island, with police telling would-be partiers to party responsibly, and particularly not to drink on the beach.

"Part of this is part of an educational and an enforcement site," Borges said. "We're gonna talk to them first and let them know what the laws are. And if they don't comply, then we'll take appropriate enforcement action."

Some who arrived at Magic Island were disappointed with the police presence. "Yeah, especially if they're driving up behind you and warning you already, I mean, when you haven't done anything," said Krysta Seiwert-Vassallo as she scanned the empty beach.

"I thought we had the wrong location," said Katie O'Grady. "I was like, maybe it's not right here."

As it turned out, it didn't happen at Magic Island. The event's Facebook page soon advertised a new, last-minute relocation to Kaimana Beach. By 2 p.m., hundreds had gathered. But police also followed and walked the beach, checking for alcohol; some Floatopia-goers were cited and arrested for alcohol possession.

"I think if the cops weren't here, everybody would be having a way funner time," said Rhegan Kinoshita at Kaimana. "I mean, my friend just got arrested, I think for having a bottle out here. And I don't think that's necessary."

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