Upcoming Hawaii Kai carnival raises money, controversy

Hawaii Kai drivers need to prepare themselves for two weekends of busy traffic.

E.K. Fernandez is planning to set up a carnival on what’s known as “The Great Lawn,” private property owned by Kamehameha Schools at the corner of Hawaii Kai Dr. and Kalanianaole Hwy. Proceeds will benefit Kaiser High School’s football team.

“It’s a full-fledged carnival and we’re so excited for them to come out to Hawaii Kai and support the local charities and Kaiser football,” said Kaiser football coach Rich Miano.

Not everyone is pleased with the site that’s been chosen for the carnival. State Rep. Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai) said, “I love Kaiser. They were just state champions and I know this is a benefit for them, but I think probably a better location would be their high school. It would be bigger. It would be less dangerous.”

The danger Ward is referring to comes from heavy traffic and a busy intersection, though E.K. Fernandez says traffic signals will not be altered, all traffic lane markings will be in effect and special duty officers will be stationed throughout the area. There will be parking at Maunalua Bay and the nearby park-and-ride.

Rep. Ward is concerned this could become the norm from Kamehameha Schools’ standpoint. “We’ve had these events,” he said. “Why don’t we take it from preservation and put it back into what was in the beginning, business?”

There is a bit of irony here given that Kamehameha Schools property is being used as the site for a public school fundraiser. Use of the property is not free, though Kamehameha would not say how much it’s charging.

“Kamehameha Schools is doing this obviously to create some revenue, but I think, more important for them, is to give back to this community, something that most people will feel like it’s a win for the community,” Miano said.

Still, Rep. Ward is leery about even a temporary event on the great lawn. “In terms of what’s in the spirit of preservation, maybe a one shot (would be okay), but not habitual sort of commercialization,” he said.

The Hawaii Kai carnival will take place March 14-16 and March 21-23, Fridays, 6-11 p.m., Saturdays, noon-11 p.m., and Sundays, noon-10 p.m. General admission will cost $1, children under 40 inches tall are free.

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