Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Kamehameha Day
parade gets a break

HPD will provide free traffic
control to keep the celebration alive

The Honolulu Police Department will absorb the cost of providing traffic control at the King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade Saturday, a move that will save the historic event from being canceled.

"I'm relieved and also concerned," said B.J. Allen, arts program specialist of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.

She said she is worried about what the commission is going to do next year about traffic control.

The parade is "not only historically important, it's part of a legacy," she said.

Last July, Allen said, the commission learned of a new city rule requiring private agencies and nonprofit organizations to pay for services that traditionally were waived during public events. In the past, the commission did not pay police officers for traffic control.

While Allen had requested that the city provide police officers for the parade at no cost to the commission, HPD informed her three weeks ago that the commission needed to pay $10,000 for 83 special-duty officers.

After word got out that the 88th annual parade might have to be canceled because of the extra cost, HPD Detective Alex Garcia sent e-mails to about 2,000 officers asking for volunteers to work traffic control.

Garcia, Oahu chairman of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said yesterday he has received many e-mails from officers wanting to volunteer.

In the meantime, Mayor Jeremy Harris yesterday approved allowing HPD to cover the costs of traffic control at the 4.2-mile event.

The Police Department is expected to provide on-duty officers to work at the parade, said spokeswoman Michelle Yu. The department will also look for off-duty officers who will be paid overtime.

Yu said costs to provide assistance for the parade is expected to be lower than $10,000. An estimated cost for overtime hours to be incurred was not available.

Though the mayor has approved letting HPD's budget cover the parade, SHOPO continues to look for volunteers for the event, Garcia said. "It's a team effort," he said.

In 1997 the Legislature cut funding for the event. Since then, Othmar and Libby Grueninger, of Indiana, have provided funding for the parade. Allen said the couple, who own Grueninger Tours, provided $15,000 this year. Allen said that the parade was canceled once during World War II.


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