Marines: Stranded concert goers “should have planned their day” better

Posted on: Monday, August 17, 2009

Band’s fans stalled on H-3

Some never made it to Black Eyed Peas concert at Kane’ohe Marine base

By John Windrow
Advertiser Staff Writer

People who waited for hours on H-3 Freeway only to miss Saturday night’s Black Eyed Peas concert at Marine Corps Base Kane’ohe’s BayFest should have planned better, Marine officials said yesterday.

Debbie Bookatz, marketing director for Marine Corps Community Service, pointed out that Saturday’s concert area opened at 4 p.m. for the scheduled 8 p.m. concert.

“People should have planned their day,” Bookatz said.

The start of the 90-minute show actually was delayed and did not begin until around 9 p.m.

Out of the 15,000 tickets that were sold for one of the most popular hip-hop groups in the country, 90 percent were used, which means that about 1,500 people with tickets did not attend, Bookatz said.

There are no plans for refunds, Bookatz said, but her office is studying the situation.

Jacob and Cheryl Reed of Waikiki left for the concert with three other people at 7 p.m.

“When we got to the area and turned off H-3 the traffic stopped,” Cheryl said yesterday. It took us two hours to get to the gate. We didn’t get to the gate until 9:30 or 10.”

The Reeds and their friends gave up and turned around. “We were in disbelief,” Cheryl said. “We had five people in the car who spent $52 each and we never got to see the show.”

When they returned to town, Cheryl said traffic to the base was backed up for “a couple of miles.”

Donald Naquin of Kane’ohe said he and his girlfriend left about 7:30 p.m. and came to a standstill about two miles from the gate.

“Never have I encountered a traffic mess like the one we got into,” he said. “We spent two hours waiting in traffic.”

Naquin said when he reached the gate at 10:10 p.m., “The Marines told us the show was over and let people decide if they wanted to go ahead and leave.”

Naquin said he thought the difficulty was in getting people parked. “I just don’t understand what happened,” he said.

The Marines yesterday said some people simply didn’t leave home early enough. They said about 21,000 people were at the event counting the staff volunteers, and that 200 military personnel, police officers, staff and volunteers were directing traffic and providing security.

Lt. Marc Farr, a member of the base police force, said his personnel controlled events on the base, not on H-3.

“Absolutely we had ample parking and security,” he said. “We partnered with HPD and provided a safe environment all day. Once people reached the gate we had them parked in 20 minutes.”

He also said that shuttles were available to take people from the parking lot to the concert area.

Farr and Marine Maj. Alan Crouch stressed that there were no significant safety incidents or injuries reported and once people got onto the base things ran safely and smoothly.

Crouch likened the event to an air show or rock festival.

“People have to plan and leave early,” he said.

Also the traffic flowing off H-3 and onto the approach to the two-lane gate formed an unavoidable bottleneck, he said.

“It’s like emptying a 5-gallon jug going through a funnel,” he said. “The water only flows so fast.”

Officials said the base only has two gates. The front gate was used to let people onto the base and the back gate was for people who work and live on the base, they said.

Farr did say the the situation would be evaluated and officials would see if there were some way to ease the traffic problem next year.

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