Hanalei clean up brings twice as many volunteers from last year

HANALEI — Everyone loves to watch 4th of July fireworks, but cleaning up afterwards is where most of the fun is.

The 10th Hanalei Beach clean-up was twice the success of last year’s clean up, bringing in twice as many volunteers.

Kelly Kaona, executive assistant at St. Regis Princeville Resort, said that by 8 a.m. they already had 70 volunteers, compared to 35 the previous year. By the event’s end, seven more had signed up.

Kaola provided plastic gloves and garbage bags and plenty of cold water. “This has been a great turnout,” she said.

The Makai Golf Course crews were led by Alex Nakajima and Daemon Baptiste. Kaola said they were out with professional equipment and had made a thorough sweep earlier than other volunteers.

“They came out with their blowers and rakes and cleaned up the worst areas at Black Pot and the pier,” Kaola said.

St. Regis General Manager Milton Sgarbi, said the success of the event was its high turnout and with most of the work completed before 9:15 a.m. The cleanup had all but finished well before noon.

Sgarbi said employees of St. Regis and partnering hotels are also from the community and take pride in them. He said it is the responsibility of the hotels to get involved in the community in ways where they can do the most good.

“I was here last night with my family and we had a great time watching the fireworks,” Sgarbi said. “Now, it is our responsibility to be here the next day to help clean up.”

The St. Regis and the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas are part of the Adopt a Highway program, and each take a two-mile stretch near town.

Hascina Mitchell, Human Resources coordinator for the Westin, said that to her the event was about Malama ‘Aina, the Hawaiian words for taking care of the land.

“This is such a good idea,” she said. “We’ve really enjoyed being out here with all of these people.”

Stephanie Haumea, director of Public Relations at St. Regis, said the clean up started in 2001 when John Murphree, a former employee, approached the management with the idea. The staff agreed, and the effort grew under Murphree’s leadership.

The hotel supplied bags and gloves. Today many volunteers are brining their own tools, she added.

“We pulled together civic groups and many other groups and businesses over the years,” Haumea said.

“We really want to thank the Princeville at Hanalei, the company that owns the Prince Golf Course and the Makai Golf Club,” she said. “It’s actually the golf course maintenance team that cleans a large part of Hanalei pier, Black Pot, as that area gets a lot of debris.”

Haumea said most of the garbage is the little red firecracker paper and small items. She recalls one year when someone left a new barbecue grill on the beach.

St. Regis employees Nathan Shuey and Andrea Vallejos said they had come out to do the New Year clean up, and that this is their first post-4th of July cleanup.

“There are lots of little things,” Vallejos said. “You look down at the sand and it looks clean but if you look closely there is a lot of stuff underneath.”

Some of the volunteers included Paula Kowalski, a food and beverage management trainee for St. Regis, who was present with her mother, Helena, who was visiting her on vacation from Germany. The ethnic Polish, German said she wanted to do something that gave back to the community and reflected well on the companies involved.

The Rodebaugh family of Lake Forest, in Orange County, Calif,. brought 10 people to the cleanup after one of them spotted the invitation sign. The family was in Kaua‘i to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of John and Sandy.

The family reported finding a net, several cylindrical style ‘ladybug’ fireworks and other trash including hairpins, sandals, cigarettes and candy wrappers.

St. Regis engineer Daniel Degracia runs a music DJ business on the side, and brought his sound system to the pavilion to provide plenty of popular Hawaiian music for the beachcombers.

The event went smoothly in large part to project partners that included the St. Regis, Princeville at Hanalei, Makai Golf Club, the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, Wyndham Vacation Resorts-Kaua‘i, and the County of Kaua‘i.

Later in the day, James Harper called The Garden Island to say that more needs to be done in other parts of the island regarding the fireworks mess. He said a Tuesday morning visit to Salt Pond Beach Park resulted in finding waste from hundreds of fireworks in the water.

“I tried to get as much as I could with a scoop net, but I couldn’t believe it and wanted to report that,” he said.

Harper said there were many people on the pavilion setting off fireworks the night before, and that they must have been throwing or shooting them off toward the kids’ pond.

“For them to be actually throwing it in the water,” he added. “I wish the police would check that area when they are doing it.”

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