A sunny Christmas Day sent throngs of merry-makers to Oahu beaches and parks Tuesday, where first responders were out in full force, too.
Diamond Head Crater Trail was packed with hikers enjoying the 80-degree weather and breezy trade winds.
“It’s beautiful. It’s paradise,” aid Emily Dohse, who is visiting from Greenville, South Carolina.
“I already told my husband I want to come back and it is only day three. People are so friendly and it’s just a beautiful island. Every time I turn around, there’s something beautiful to look at, just takes my breath away.”
It was Dohse and her family’s first time doing a hike on Christmas morning.
In Waikiki, the Salisburys from Vancouver were enjoying Christmas in Hawaii for the first time.
“We’ve been here many times, but first time being away during Christmas time. So, a little different but yeah, we’re enjoying it,” said Lanette Salisbury.
The Salisburys say it’s wet and raining back home, so it’s time to soak up the sun.
“So far so good, we already been for a big walk and everything. We let our kids asleep, they’re older kids. Now we can get some breakfast and we’re heading down to the beach,” said Salisbury’s husband, Mark.
They also said it’s their first time spending Christmas on a beach.
While thousands in Hawaii enjoyed their Christmas holiday at the beaches and hiking trails, first responders didn’t have the day off.
“We know what we signed up for when we signed up for the job. We have to work all kinds of hours and sacrifice spending time with our families. But we make it work, we celebrate before or after,” said paramedic Kanani Adams.
Adams has been working for Honolulu Emergency Medical Services for the past five years. She said she has worked four out of the five Christmases.
“Regardless if it’s a holiday or not, we have to be there for the community. We have to help everybody out. People shouldn’t feel bad for calling 911 when they need help. Whether it’s Christmas or the day after,” Adams said.
Honolulu Fire Capt. Brett Mau has been on the job for 25 years. He says he doesn’t “think much of it.”
“We’re used to this, being with our family, this is our family,” he said. “The public really depends on us to provide our service, so they can feel safe and enjoy this good holiday season.”
Paramedics say Tuesday wasn’t too busy, but lifeguards were out in full force as beaches were packed across the island.
“It was a bit discouraging this morning telling the kids, ‘Dad has to go to work,” said Baba Merino. “And they were kinda bummed, but it’s part of the job.”
For Merino, being a first responder is in his blood – and he knows sacrifices all too well.
“I’m a second-generation lifeguard so I know what it’s like to have sacrifices done for me. My father has been working most holidays,” Merino said.
In fact, Merino and his father were working side by side Tuesday, so he got to spend Christmas with his family after all.