BayFest proves to be a learning experience for sponsors


POSTED: Sunday, August 23, 2009

BayFest proves to be a learning experience for sponsors

By Col. R. D. Rice

Dear Mr. Brian Kajiyama:

I regret you did not enjoy your first BayFest experience at Marine Corps Base Hawaii last Saturday. We strive to host quality events at which our guests are safe and entertained. The event last weekend was our 20th BayFest and lived up to its reputation, hosting several talented and popular musical acts all three evenings.

From your open letter about your experiences at MCB Hawaii on Saturday night, it seems our plans for disabled guests did not work out as we had expected. I appreciate you bringing these issues to our attention so we can better prepare for future events.

Although my staff designated an area by the main BayFest entrance for VIP and disabled parking, your driver was initially diverted by mistake into another parking area. Fortunately another volunteer recognized your vehicle as appropriate for the VIP/disabled parking area, and I'm glad you were successfully dropped off there.

Once inside BayFest, we arranged access to the concert area immediately past identification and arm-band checkers. Although we had set aside seating for guests in wheelchairs and provided walkways for our guests with strollers and in wheelchairs, we unfortunately did not have ushers positioned to guide you and other disabled guests to those seats. This will be corrected in the future.

After the concert and fireworks display, our intention was to allow commercial taxis access to the BayFest exits, so they could transport passengers to their destinations. Civilian drivers should also have been able to circumvent the outbound traffic if necessary. Regrettably, your driver was incorrectly told she could not drive to meet you. Though many pedestrian guests safely walked to their vehicles at one of our many satellite parking areas, I apologize that you needed to navigate our streets in order to link up with transportation.

I appreciate your time identifying ways we can better service our guests safely while they enjoy our events. I hope you return to our base when we sponsor future events for the public. We appreciate our neighbors' support and their interest in the welfare of our Marines, sailors and their families, and we enjoy the opportunity to express our gratitude by hosting the public here. At your best opportunity, I invite you to visit our Wounded Warrior Detachment barracks to discuss disabled access with our Marines there and to see the facilities used daily by this group of dedicated service members.


Col. R. D. Rice is commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe. (Editor's note: This is an open-letter reply to a commentary by Brian Kajiyama, ”;Disability hardships sour BayFest outing,”; Star-Bulletin, Aug. 20.)