Roughly 450 revelers rescued from Waikiki 'floatilla' this July 4

Roughly 450 revelers rescued from Waikiki 'floatilla' this July 4
Published: Jul. 4, 2018 at 4:28 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 5, 2018 at 6:55 AM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lifeguards have rescued about 450 July Fourth "floatilla" revelers in waters off Waikiki, a Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman said.

None of the partygoers needed to be transported to a hospital.

"Compared to the past two Independence Day flotillas off Waikiki, this year's was tame," the DLNR said.

Authorities were out in force this Independence Day to ensure residents stay safe — and follow the rules.

This year, teams with the U.S. Coast Guard, DLNR, and the Honolulu Police Department worked together to crack down on illegal activity, such as underage drinking and boating under the influence.

Floatilla participants say the noticed the increase in presence.

"I think they're just worried about all the kids drinking out there. Every ten minutes or 15 minutes you see a new boat pass by asking questions," said beachgoer Tiara Ondo.

The holiday is always a busy one, but especially this year, with an additional 25,000 people here for the RIMPAC military exercises.

The DLNR estimates the total crowed maxed out at 600 participants.

"At one point a DOCARE officer counted 132 people in a floating conga line. Some were on individual inflatable toys, some were in groups atop rubber rafts with stand-up paddle boards and other water toys interspersed," the DLNR said.

Based off of previous years, crews anticipated large crowds and planned accordingly.

"We've shifted ... supply and demand. Less things happen during the day, less officers in the day, more things happen at night, more officers at night," said police deputy Chief John McCarthy. "We're supplemented, very lucky to have the shore patrol out with. US Army as well, so it's made a big difference."

On Tuesday, officials made a public plea to those planning to go to this year's "floatilla" party off Waikiki to be safe and responsible.

"As you know, in the past, we've had serious situations and some people getting so wasted they couldn't even swim," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, at a news conference.

Last July Fourth, as many as 10,000 people participated in the event in the waters off Waikiki. Hundreds ended up needing to be rescued and 10 people were taken to the hospital with alcohol-related injuries.

"It's hard to see people, there's a lot of floaties, there's a lot of people in the water, and all it takes is for somebody to be floating face down for a while," Caldwell said.

The mayor also reminded the public to clean up after themselves after they party.

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii usually assists with cleanup efforts, but this year the non-profit pulled out to discourage people from attending and polluting the ocean.

Partygoers say they noticed people were being much more responsible with their trash.

"There's less trash in the water this year, which is good," said beachgoer Reef Shaw.

"We're making sure all the trash stays with us and making sure nothing goes into the ocean," said beachgoer Erin Summers.

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