HONOLULU (KHON2) — For many families, this long Memorial Day weekend was the first time reuniting after two years of pausing large gatherings, making reconnecting with each other that much more exciting.

Amee Neves said her family used to get together each Memorial Day, but COVID-19 disrupted those plans. She said her father got up extra early to set up the grill and get a good location for the entire family at Ala Moana Beach Park.

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Neves said, “I missed everyone, especially cause a lot of my family is a little bit older so obviously you don’t want to put them in any danger but like all of us are vaccinated so it’s just nice to finally be together.”

A clear sky, music and good food were the order of the day, but Shari Rapisura from Mililani also paid tribute to her father and brother who both served in the armed forces.

“Freedom, there’s a cost to be free, you know and there are people before us that you know that paid the ultimate price,” Rapisura said. “And for our current armed forces that are currently protecting our freedom so that we can here and enjoy.”

Movie theatres were also busting with people, the long-anticipated “Top Gun” sequel holds a special place in movie-goers hearts. Navy veteran Bruce Combs said he had been waiting to watch to the new movie.

Combs said, “Wonderful thing to do on Memorial Day just to come see this and honor the people that have served our country and extremely realistic, beautiful movie I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Local businesses are also riding the wave of celebrations. Via Gelato in Kaimuki has been busier with customers, and It is not just for the holiday weekend, graduations are also drawing extra customers.

Lihau Keoneula Stender is an employee at Via Gelato who is noticing more foot traffic.

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Keoneula Stender said, “It’s been really busy especially with the night shifts. I’ve been noticing a lot of the graduates and their families are coming in just to celebrate.”