Fourth of July floatilla considered calm, controlled despite more than 450 rescues


The annual Fourth of July floatilla event off Waikiki beach drew between 500 to 600 participants this year.

Officials said they counted 132 people in a floating conga line at one point.

Additional lifeguards and watercraft were brought in to ensure swimmers and people attending this year’s floatilla party were safe. 

The Fourth of July is one of the busiest holidays for ocean safety and Waikiki police. 

Ocean safety confirms that more than 450 rescues were made. Though the number sounds high, it pales in comparison to what happened last year.

Officials said thousands attended the Fourth of July floatilla in 2017, and things got out of hand. Ten people had to be hospitalized, one in critical condition, and 10 others needed medical attention.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, city Ocean Safety Division, and the U.S. Coast Guard were out on the water in Waikiki in force to ensure that wouldn’t happen this year.

“We wanted to really make a very visible presence in the area of the floatilla,” said Jason Redulla, Deputy Enforcement Chief. “We wanted to deter any criminal activity, but also to make sure that we had enough resources and assets on scene to provide the level of safety and law enforcement that’s required for an event such as this.”

Participants took notice. Jean-Luc Fardel and more than 20 of his friends took part in the floatilla.

“It was pretty fun. We paddled outside and the Coast Guard kept watching over us,” Fardel said.

Redulla said it was a partnership between the numerous branches that helped things run much smoother this year.

“All of these effort combined made it a lot calmer and a lot tamer than previous years,” Redulla said.

After last year’s floatilla, one of the other concerns was an excess of trash and floaties being left on the beach.

So far, Redulla says it’s hard to tell. 

“We haven’t had any reports of any kind of littering activity or people throwing things overboard. Hopefully because of the more controlled and tamer atmosphere, that will also result in less trash being found as a result of this event,” Redulla said.

He added that it would be easier to assess how much trash was left behind in the light of day Thursday.

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