A free concert on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Oct. 22 headlined by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has drawn criticism from troops and families who were turned away at the gate after hours-long waits when the concert filled past capacity.
The show, dubbed "Rock the Troops," included appearances by Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas, Flo Rida and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others. It was free to military and Defense Department ID card holders. Each ID card holder was allowed to request passes for up to 10 non-DoD guests.
Organizers expected as many as 25,000 attendees, they said. When interest grew well past that, they increased the cap to 45,000. But when even more people tried to come, the base decided to close the gates at 6:30 p.m. for the sake of security -- an hour after the show started, officials said.
People who identified themselves as military members were swift to complain on the base's Facebook page, saying that the concert should have been reserved for troops and their families, not civilians. They said giving out passes to non-DoD ID card holders meant that the troops the concert was named for couldn't attend.
"Waited for four hours in line and traffic only to get turned away," one commenter noted. "I hope all the civilians enjoy the 'Rock the Troops' show."
"Got in line at 4:20. Moved 10 feet in 15 minutes," another said. "We were just another four active duty members who didn't get to see the concert due to three hour long lines. Thanks."
But organizers said that although they are sad not everyone could see the show, the interest was a sign of a successful event.
"We were just blown away by the response, by the number of people that wanted to come to this," said Casey Patterson, who produced the show, which will air as Christmas special later this year on Spike TV. "We're so very sorry anyone got turned away."
About 45,000 people attended the event, Air Force officials said. Although DoD ID card holders were permitted to invite up to 10 people each, only about 9,000 non-DoD ID card holder visitor passes were requested and, of those, only about 4,804 were granted, they said.
"I think this event was a home run," said Chris Stagner, a spokesperson for the Air Force Entertainment Liaison office, which helped organize the event. "It allowed us to get 45,000 people on the installation and watch this amazing event ... it was a great event and it really was unfortunate that not everyone was able to attend."
The event will be aired on Spike TV on Dec. 13.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.