Park-goers take word of new restrictions in stride

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald Iley O'Connell, left, and Kaysia Dills tan Thursday at Richardson Ocean Park in Keaukaha.

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald Lewis Cameron gets ready to jump off a rock Thursday at Carlsmith Beach Park.

Laughter was plentiful Thursday as Lewis Cameron and his friend jumped into the water from the rocks at Hilo’s Carlsmith Beach Park.

Juliane Cameron watched as her son and his friend continued to jump into the water using different styles over and over.

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“They can just go and go and go,” Cameron said. “It’s fun to watch them have a great time.”

The beach park began to attract a larger crowd after lunch, with many beach patrons looking to soak up some sun before the parks close again for two weeks.

With COVID-19 cases on Hawaii Island continuing to surge, Mayor Harry Kim announced Wednesday that all county and state beach parks will close today until Sept. 18.

Akya Azarael and her son, Iolii, spent their morning at Richardson Ocean Park and decided to eat lunch after a few hours in the water.

“It didn’t really surprise me to hear they were closing the parks,” Azarael said. “I understand why Mayor Kim has to do this, because congregating on the beach should be discouraged.”

Azarael and Iolii continued to come to the beach parks only to swim during the initial stay-at-home order before the parks reopened in May.

“It’s easy for us because we can park, jump in the water, swim and drive home,” Azarael said. “It makes sense that they want to stop people from having parties on the beach.”

Azarael finds that swimming in the ocean is necessary for Iolii’s autism. He meets other kids and feels comfortable swimming in the ocean.

“This is his, and my, therapy, and there are always other kids here that feel the same way,” Azareal said. “As long as we have access to the water, we are going to be fine.”

Sati Hovis felt the same way after spending time at Carlsmith on Thursday afternoon.

“As long as I can get in the water, the closure doesn’t matter to me,” Hovis said. “I can hang with my family when I’m at home, but I need to be able to access the ocean.”

Although closed, beach and coastal parks can still be used for direct access to and from the ocean in order to engage in exercise, fishing and gathering of food, according to the mayor’s latest emergency rule.

“I was a little disappointed to hear the parks were closing,” Keysha Neves said while swimming at Carlsmith. “But I think we’ll still be able to get in the water, which is fine with me.”

Neves and her friend, Amanda Wiltse, swam around while talking about the new rule for the parks.

The rule explicitly prohibits the use of pavilions, barbecues, temporary canopies and similar shade devices, as well as coolers and grills.

“I don’t even know the last time I hung out with more than 10 people,” Neves joked with Wiltse. “I don’t think this will really affect us too much.”

University of Hawaii at Hilo students Kaysia Dills and Iley O’Connell heard about the rule for the first time while tanning at Richardson’s.

“We try to come out to the beach every day,” Dills said. “We don’t really like crowds, so we try to be in more secluded places anyway.”

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“I think we’ll just have to find a private place to go for a couple weeks,” O’Connell said.

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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