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Fireworks highlight Expo Festival

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2012-07-13

Tens of thousands of spectators will flock to Ocean Expo Park this weekend for the Saturday extravaganza that will include beach activities, concerts and an hour-long fireworks display, the largest on the island.

The 34th Ocean Expo Park Fireworks Festival presents the largest fireworks show on the island, with more than 10,000 pyrotechnics being launched in two stages at 8 p.m. and 8:25 p.m., with a brief intermission to allow technicians to reload their launch tubes. Fireworks cap a festive day that begins at noon on Emerald Beach.

Beach attractions will be operational from noon to 4 p.m., including a water pistol match, water balloon darts, a dolphin slide and of course frolicking in the sand on the beach. Stage performances take over Emerald Beach at 4 p.m., running right up until fireworks time. Butomoo, Mobobu Townís image characters, will be on stage from 4:00 ~ 4:15 p.m., followed by characters Umimaru and U-min offering advice on how to play safely at the beach until 4:30 p.m.

The Sunset Concert kicks off with rock and pop music from JaaBourBonz at 4:45 p.m., followed by Aria, a female rock violinist, from 5:30 p.m. ~ 6:10 p.m. Zukanís rock and pop sounds fill the evening air starting at 6:20 p.m., and Kiiyama Shoten brings everything to a fever pitch from 7:10 p.m. to fireworks showtime.

Fireworks festival organizers encourage visitors to bring flashlights because itís dark across the beach. Visitors are asked to be polite and to remove all trash from the beach. In case of inclement weather causing the cancellation of the fireworks show, there will be no substitute day.

Expect large crowds to slow the roads system and make the return to Naha and other points south slow. Thereís plenty of parking at the Emerald Beach site, but expect it to be filled by mid-afternoon. The Ocean Expo Park closes at 10 p.m., and no overnight stays or parking are allowed.

Travel to Ocean Expo Park is easy. Take the Okinawa Expressway to the Kyoda exit, then continue to Nago, and follow signs to Motobu and Ocean Expo Park. Drivers should be prepared for sometimes lengthy traffic jams and frequent stops as thousands more cars are on the Okinawa Expressway for the event.

Drivers who are arrive late to the event should also notice that the traffic is restricted on the route 114 that follows the Expo Park fence from 7:30 to 11 p.m., and only one way traffic from the intersection at the fireworks site to the Urasaki intersection on the main road to Nago is allowed between 8:20 and 11 p.m.

Many temporary parking areas are available near the venue with shuttle buses running until midnight between the parking areas and the fireworks site until midnight.

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