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Sunday, November 23, 2014         

APEC HAWAII SUMMIT: WAKIKI AFTERMATH


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As security eases, so does the community's mood

By Kevin Dayton

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After all of the roadblocks and searches, the speeding convoys of limousines, the road closures and those solemn nods from polite Secret Service agents, Waikiki began to return to normal Monday.

There were still some lane closures, traffic snarls and other remnants of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but visitors and residents seemed to be shrugging off the weekend's events and getting on with their business or fun.

Van driver Richard Cummings, 57, was tasked with transporting staff and executives from Taiwan's delegation to several events. His 24-passenger van was part of some white-knuckle convoys that raced through red lights during the weekend to get dignitaries to their destinations, but Monday found him parked quietly near the Hilton Hawaiian Village, waiting for a new assignment.

"I'm glad it's over, because it takes all of the security out of here, but it was interesting, let's put it that way," Cummings said. "It's the first time I've seen something that had so many security implications."

His main gripe about the APEC weekend was with gawkers who Cummings believes deliberately drove into checkpoints near the Hawaii Prince Hotel, just to see what was going on. Everyone was warned about the checkpoints, but "people just never listen," he said.

"And then they get mad about the security?" he asked. But as the weekend wore on, Cummings said, motorists figured out which areas to avoid, which eased the flow of traffic.

At the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, sailboat captain Patrick Farley was scrambling Monday to prepare for an upcoming 30-day sail to Mexico after his plans were upended by APEC.

Farley was supposed to leave today to deliver a boat belonging to a client, but he was unable to take delivery of new electronic components, new sails and a month's worth of provisions until APEC security was finally relaxed.

"Everything that's been standing outside the harbor waiting to come in, it all showed up just now," he said. "I wanted it all spaced out over the last week, but we've been locked down all week."

Those delays forced Farley to postpone his trip, but he had no gripe with the APEC security staff. "They weren't bad. The local guys were good, and the Secret Service was polite and just impeccably dressed," Farley said.

Alliey Vanrenese, 22, said she and her family found themselves walking around Waikiki amid some wicked traffic jams and "feeling bad for everyone."

"It was kind of a mess," said Vanrenese, who arrived from Vancouver, British Columbia, for vacation just before APEC began. "Every intersection was blocked off, and they didn't seem to handle traffic very well."

Van driver Cummings said he encountered visitors who were angry at the security precautions.

In some cases tour vans were called to collect departing tourists but were not allowed to approach the hotels. That meant visitors had to walk several blocks to meet the vehicles, Cummings said, and some of the departing tourists were irate.

"It was hard not to hear them walking down the street" and grumbling about the security arrangements, he said.

Jerry Lawson, an Air Force retiree who lives near the International Market Place, said he thought the security precautions were excessive, but he didn't have any major problems with APEC.

"We need more of it, really," he said of the summit of 21 world leaders. "With transportation the way it is now, you can't be separate countries anymore. You've got to work as a unit."

Lawson saw some of the protesters who marched in Waikiki in opposition to APEC, but "I didn't pay any attention to them," he said. "Most of them don't know what they're protesting."






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