Sand Triggers Sky Slide Memories

There’s something about a slide that brings out the kid in all of us.

Who can forget the Sky Slide next to the old Gibson’s in Mapunapuna, or the one out in Waipahu near the aging Royal Sunset Drive-In? (Many swear the slide in Waipahu was much faster than the one in Mapunapuna, but we’ll never know.) Good times. Sweet memories.


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Tai-John Mizutani zooms down the dune. Ron Mizutani photo

I took an unexpected trip down memory lane on Thanksgiving Day when I pulled into the parking lot at Kailua Beach and spotted a magnificent hill.

“Hey, look it’s the Sky Slide!” I said. “Sky what?” my youngest son asked before bolting out the door. I was several steps behind him and tried to explain but stopped in mid-sentence. What’s the point? He wouldn’t understand. And how could I blame him? The manmade sand slide was at least 25 feet tall.

The massive sand dune is believed to be part of a proactive effort to combat the never-ending erosion battle at Kailua Beach. For years, city crews have used heavy equipment to

move sand from nearby Kaelepulu Stream to areas that need attention. Over the past few weeks, the “staging area” at the mouth of the stream has gotten bigger and wider. Windblown sand has helped make it taller.

“This is great,” says former University of Hawaii receiver Mike Akiu, who was smiling from ear to ear as he watched his granddaughter make her way down the sandy slope. When asked if he wanted to give it a go, he laughed, “No thank you, I know better!”

So did I but, boy, did it look inviting.

As I watched my children take turns with about a dozen other kids and adults, I found myself stepping back in time (some 40 years) to a warm summer night in Mapunapuna. I pictured myself nervously carrying my mat to the top of the Sky Slide, my legs wobbling at the thought about how high we were. Then came anticipation, as we waited for our turn to come, wondering why adults were even in line.

Finally, it was time. We carefully sat on the mat, making sure our skin wasn’t exposed to the slide. A mistake here could lead to a nasty burn on the way down. Seconds later, we’re off! It’s hard to put into words that exhilarating feeling in your stomach as you swoop down the slide, one hump after another. I could do it all night long.

A young girl’s high-pitched shriek snapped me out of my brief flashback, but the nostalgic moment is more than enough to make me want to give it one more try. I slowly climbed to the top of the steep slope and looked down. It was much higher than I thought it was and I noticed my legs … were wobbling. Are you serious? I felt like I was 7 again.

At that moment, a brave mom started her descent down the slide. She was enjoying the moment, screaming like a child when she unexpectedly hit a small bump in the hill and went sailing into the air. The woman tumbled off her son’s Boogie Board and rolled to the bottom, laughing hysterically the entire time. When she turned to face the crowd, she smiled and revealed a mouthful of sand. I laughed with her and quietly started walking back down the hill.

“C’mon, Dad,” my son yelled. “Try it, it’s fun!”

By then, other children were looking at me, no doubt sharing the same thought I had four decades ago: “Why is he even in line?”

“Nah, not today, son, not today.”

Yes, there’s something special about a slide that brings out the kid in all of us. But sometimes it’s best we leave it for the kids. After all, we’ve already had our turn, right?