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Ocean Expo staging sunset concert, fireworks

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2008-07-17

Okinawa’s biggest fireworks extravaganza lights up the sky Saturday night as Ocean Expo stages its annual summer festival.

The Ocean Expo Park Summer Festival is an all afternoon and evening event featuring events and activities for the kids, a daylight fireworks display and a summer concert with four different artists taking to the stage. The evening caps with an hour-long pyrotechnics exhibition with thousands of fireworks lighting up the night sky over northern Okinawa.

More than 50,000 people are expected to flock to Ocean Expo Memorial Park for the festival. It gets underway at 2 p.m. with a series of events including a dolphin slider, aqua jungle, mini fire model exhibition, a soccer challenge corner and a baseball special. The fun for kids runs til 7 p.m. There’s also a Beach Sports Champion Tournament at 5 p.m.

A quiz show gets the center stage action going at 4 p.m., followed by a ball catcher game at 5 p.m. and the fireworks at 5:40 p.m.

The sunset concert is where the event turns to a summer dream. All Japan Goith performs at 6 p.m., followed by Emi Tawata and The Acoustic Infinity at 6:30 p.m. Jun Tawata and Okinawan Drums follows at 7 p.m., with Yuki Takara Live headlining the show at 7:30 p.m. Following Taira’s performance, the countdown begins to the 30th annual Ocean Expo Park Fireworks at 8 p.m.

The first 20-minute burst of more than 4,000 fireworks begins at 8 p.m., with a ten-minute break at 8:20 p.m. which technicians use to reload the fireworks tubes for the second round at 8:30 p.m. Following the fireworks, Hydrangea Music Village Street performs live until 10 p.m. on stage. Also in the park, Okinawan traditional Taiko drums and eisa dance will perform for spectators.

Large crowds really tax the expressway and local roads leading through Nago City and Motobu to Ocean Expo Memorial Park. Expect the trip to take about 2˝ hours from Naha City…a little less from bases in the central part of the island. Take Okinawa Expressway to Kyoda Interchange, then follow signs to Nago City, then Motobu, then Ocean Expo Park.

There’s plenty of parking at the park, but traditionally it’s full by mid-afternoon. The morale of the story is to go early, and plan to stay through the afternoon and evening. The Ocean Expo Park closes at 10 p.m., after the festival closes, and no overnight stays or parking are allowed. Organizers point out, though, that there are plenty of nearby beaches that permit overnight parking.

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