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After being away for 18 months, OIA fans make a noisy return to the stands

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:29 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 10:02 PM HST
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PEARL CITY (HawaiiNewsNow) - Spectators were allowed back at Oahu public high school sports events Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic began.

And those fans were more than ready to make some noise, like the spectators at the Pearl City High School gym for a series of volleyball matches against rival Aiea High School.

“I forgot how much of an echo there is, and even though the crowd is small, I think everybody is so excited. It’s just really really loud, and it’s awesome,” said Robyn Faumuina, who was there to watch her daughter play.

It sounded like a larger crowd than there actually was.

“Tonight we have about 115 fans, which is fine,” said Pearl City Athletic Director Reid Shigemasa. “We were open to up at least 200, but I think 115 is perfect.”

Capacity will vary from school to school.

“A lot of these parents, they know what to do. They’re distancing themselves, they’re wearing their masks,” he added.

If they needed a reminder, there was a sign at the entrance spelling out the now familiar protocol: Everyone had to show a proof of vaccination and an ID before they could get in.

Tickets were also purchased in advance online, but it’s the first time that system is being used.

“Because the wi-fi is kinda spotty here, it was kinda hard to pull up the tickets, but it wasn’t that hard,” said Faumuina.

“Of course, dealing with technology, there’s always some hiccups,” said Shigemasa. ‘We’re dealing with a little setback on some of our online ticketing, but we’re working it out.”

It was also easy to tell that the student-athletes were glad to have their friends and family back in the stands.

“You can see the different vibe, and my daughter said she was nervous about playing on TV tonight — I mean, about us being here, but it was like we weren’t even here, so it was cool,” said Faumuina.

“I feel sorry for the kids,” said sports fan Kealoha Giugni, who has grandchildren in sports, and who couldn’t hide her excitement. “They’re out here now, and they’re just gonna excel, and — boom! — we’re gonna win.”

Celso Alvarado was in the bleachers to watch his daughter. He also shared the night on Facebook Live. He said it was a long wait to get back into the stands.

“It was, it was,” he said. “But you know, we just have to be patient, and you know, here we are now, right? So hopefully it stays this way and starts opening up.”

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