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Fourth of July fun preceded by parking woes

By Robert Shikina

LAST UPDATED: 04:42 p.m. HST, Jul 04, 2014

Thousands gathered at Ala Moana Beach Park hours before Friday's Fourth of July fireworks as canopies covered much of the available ground, and grills sizzled with chicken wings and kalbi. 

Gina Sambrano, of Mililani, said the crowd appears to grow every year. She said the grass on the mauka side of the sidewalk used to be empty, but people were already setting up tents before 11 a.m. 

"It seems like every year we have to leave earlier and earlier (to get a spot)," she said.

Philip Tabion, of Ewa, arrived about 3 a.m. Thursday, but the spot he wanted had been taken. He found another nearby that was close enough to take his paddleboards into the water and provide a good view of the fireworks.

Tabion, who was cooking chicken wings on a grill, said he woke up about 4 a.m. Friday and walked to his car outside the park to drive it in when the park opened.

"It was packed already," he said. "People were crawling in."

For those arriving after sunrise at Ala Moana Beach Park, plans to spend a day at the beach and watch the fireworks at night quickly became a frustrating ordeal to find parking.

"Sucks," said Maria Mark, of Makiki, who pulled up to a red curb because there was no other parking at the Magic Island lot. She just got her car back after a tow truck driver tried to tow it away.

She said a police officer told her she couldn't park in a white-striped area and told the tow truck driver to let her have her vehicle back at no cost.

"He was kind of mad," she said of the officer. "Now were stuck here to look for parking."

Mark had arrived at the beach about 7 a.m., planning to spend the day with her husband and young daughter, but was still looking for parking at 11 a.m.

Merty Muritok, of Kalihi, double parked her car in the same lot and got out because her back was hurting.

"I've been looking for parking for two to three hours," she said. "Hard to find."

Parking filled up across the street at Ala Moana Center as the morning went on.

About 11 a.m. there were a few stalls left on the top level of the makai side of the center.

There are about two thousand fewer parking spaces at the mall because of construction at Ala Moana Center. 

There is also no viewing area on the makai parking lot as in previous years. The mall, which sponsors the fireworks, told people to enjoy a day of shopping and dining and then watch the show across the street at Ala Moana Beach Park.

The parking woes extended to Waikiki, where others hoped for a view of the fireworks.

Honolulu Police issued a notice at about 4:30 p.m. saying the parking lot at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor is full.

Some people were lucky, like Nella To, who happened to be in the right spot when another driver pulled out of a stall at Ala Moana Beach Park.

"We're going to be walking to the store," she said. "We're not giving up that parking."

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tutulois wrote:
People -- take the bus, and stop whining!
on July 4,2014 | 02:09PM
false wrote:
Bus? In a few years you can pack up your tent, coolers, chairs and Weber and catch the rail to the event! Dunno how long it will take to haul all that junk from Kona St. to the park though.
on July 4,2014 | 02:36PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Go borrow five shopping carts from a homeless community take em across Ala Moana Blvd, however if a police officer attempts to stop u for vagrancy, let em know that it is Captain Kirk's fault for attempting building of TheTrain to Downtown, which will get stalled by landowners who are collectively objecting to TheTrain by stipulating that there NEEDS to be caustic negotiation between private property owners and Daniel Grabaskaus of HART, just so that there could be a reason drummed up to blame former Governor Benjamin Cayetano for the unreasonable delays in the train construction schedule and not "looking in the mirror" as a certain midget noted recently, to have and to hold, the REAL reasons for TheTrain's delay, which is the utter incompetency of HART !!!! Yes the above was intended to be just one sentence. You can come up for air now !!!
on July 4,2014 | 04:42PM
Mythman wrote:
See, it's true, there simply is not enough beach for everyone when they all go at the same time.
on July 4,2014 | 04:49PM
sailfish1 wrote:
You cannot take that kind of stuff on a bus. Same with rail.
on July 4,2014 | 08:56PM
what wrote:
Ha! If people aren't taking TheBus, they aren't going to take TheRail either. Who's going to carry all that stuff and bags with onto public transit? The people are better served with double decked highway and electric cars. Rail is fail.
on July 4,2014 | 07:23PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Can you imagine the train ride with the keiki, the hibachi, plenny coolahs, tents, paddleboard, tutu, tutu, tutu and crazy Uncle Masa all going beach for celebrate July 4?

The train does not fit island lifestyle. Azzwhy so pupule.

on July 4,2014 | 04:51PM
GeoDiva wrote:
Sorry, but I would never spend 3 hours looking for parking!
on July 4,2014 | 10:43PM
jussayin wrote:
More development, more people, more cars, more traffic, etc. Unfortunately it's not going to get better. But hey, it's a holiday and hope everyone had a good one.
on July 4,2014 | 11:25PM
fshnpoi wrote:
load up da trk, drop everything off at da park, driver take trk back down nimitz wea get parking along bus route and catch "da bus" back to da park. reverse steps when pau hana time. no hassle, easy brada.. HTTR!
on July 5,2014 | 01:55AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
fshnpoi, a man after my own heart. You make the most sense of all. You could also park either in the Kalihi or Makiki area. Put your bike on the bus, so you can easily cruise to any spot in the park. LOL, you couldn't pay me to be at the park yesterday. Today? We go beach Ala Moana!
on July 5,2014 | 08:15AM
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