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Floating offshore parties get a pass from state agency


The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is backing away from considering a ban on Waikiki’s offshore parties, also known as "floatopias" or flotillas.

The parties involve hundreds of people who paddle from Oahu’s shoreline on a wide array of items and tie up together to have fun. The state agency discussed outlawing them after last summer’s Fourth of July flotilla off Kuhio Beach attracted hundreds of people. Scores had to be assisted to shore when the surf kicked up.

DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward told KITV-TV in an email that the agency would consider all available options to bring some level of control to future waterborne parties. However, she said, the state does not have to step in at this time.

"As long as the partygoers are not disturbing others or putting themselves at risk, and are operating their vessels in a safe manner, there’s no need for the state to get involved," Ward said in the email.

However, she said conservation officers would keep a close watch over the parties, making sure boat operators are not drunk or driving in a reckless manner.

Aaron Rosenblatt has taken part in the festivities for five years.

"It usually starts off with a couple of boats getting together, and then rafts," Rosenblatt said.

Last summer at Kuhio Beach, city lifeguards estimated 175 to 200 partygoers were brought to the beach on watercraft when the surf kicked up. Many were intoxicated, and the incident prompted a meeting a few days later with representatives of the Hono­lulu Police Department, the city Ocean Safety Division and DLNR.

Jim Howe, the head of the Ocean Safety Division, said lifeguards would also take extra precautions during the offshore celebrations.

Kahi Pacarro of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii welcomed DLNR’s approach. Members of Pacarro’s nonprofit group, including Rosenblatt, partake in the annual Independence Day festivities while also gathering trash offshore.

"I hope that they’re seeing that we’re trying to be responsible with this event, that it’s been going on for a long time and it’s a tradition at this point," he said.

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