First open street event on Kalakaua Ave. draws hundreds

Coronavirus

Hundreds, if not thousands, filled Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki Sunday morning. A portion of the road was closed to cars so people could exercise and support businesses in the area that hasn’t seen activity because of COVID-19.

Walkers, bicyclists, even roller skaters turned up to Oahu’s first open street event on Kalakaua Avenue. Excited, many jumped at the opportunity to stretch their legs.

“I think everyone has been bottled up for a while. I think it’s time to get back to the ‘aina. To get back to what we like to do,” said Jason Vigil.

“Just got this bike right before COVID hit so happy to have this great opportunity to practice,” said Courtny Tanigawa about her son’s bicycle.

“I didn’t expect to see this many people this early,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell, “I was like wow, wow, and wow.”

Mayor Caldwell says the event not only benefits local residents but businesses as well.

“Hopefully as Waikiki opens up, we see more stores open up, people can actually stop, shop, have breakfast,” he said.

“I definitely think it can work. I see a lot of people taking detours and entering the shops and helping businesses out,” said Leslie Hoopai.

For the places that didn’t open as early, the Hawaii Restaurant Associations says making adjustments might not be a bad idea.

“There were a lot of people out. A lot of families. It would benefit them if they opened a little earlier, you know, so for the next couple of Sundays,” said Executive Director Sheryl Matsuoka.

When we spoke to the Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chair last week, we’re told at their board meeting there were some residents in support of the event and others had some concerns about inviting people to one location during the pandemic. Organizers say they’re open to hearing from them.

“This is the very first time we’ve done it so we want to know if this disrupted them and how and if there’s a way to modify it a bit to work for everybody,” said Lori McCarney, Executive Director of the Hawaii Bicycling League.

Kalakaua Open Street Sundays will continue for the next 3 Sundays. Kalakaua between Seaside and Kapahalue Avenue will be closed again to all vehicular traffic from 6 a.m. until noon.


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