Fewer problems seen at this year's July Fourth "floatilla" off Waikiki

Fewer problems seen at this year's July Fourth 'Floatilla' off Waikiki
Published: Jul. 5, 2016 at 9:26 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 5, 2016 at 9:58 PM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Smaller crowds, increased exposure, and lots of enforcement meant July Fourth's annual "floatilla" off Waikiki was much less of a mess than in years past, onlookers said.

Using Jet Skis and boats, state Department of Land and Natural Resources officers stepped up patrols in the waters off Waikiki on the holiday.

Plus, while some 3,000 people were expected, only about 1,000 turned out.

That didn't mean there weren't problems.

DLNR officers boarded vessels to check for safety equipment, issued citations, and escorted about 300 people to shore after their floats deflated. Officers also helped two people suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Jason Redulla, acting chief of the state Division of Conversation and Resources Enforment, said that while "floatilla" parties during other holidays are also popular, the Fourth of July event is the biggest because of the combination of people there to watch fireworks and the MacFarlene Regatta.

State Rep. Tom Brower, who represents Waikiki and Ala Moana, observed this year's event and said the increased patrols and smaller crowds showed further action isn't needed -- yet.

Previous events had some calling for legislation.

"I think we need to stand by with legislation, but right now the laws that we have, from my research, covers it," Brower said. "We're satisfied for now."

But he does think DLNR may need more resources eventually, so that other holiday "floatilla" events -- like one on Memorial Day -- can also be patrolled with a similar presence.

Meanwhile, volunteers with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, who spend days cleaning up the mess left behind from the water parties, also noticed less debris this year.

Kahi Pacarro, of Sustainable Coastlines, said the group collected about 183 pounds of trash, compared to 300 pounds last year.

That might be partially due to the fact that the crowd was smaller," Pacarro said, "but we tend to look at the silver lining and kind of thinking that people are being a bit more responsible."

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