With the annual Autumn Festival cancelled last year due to Super Typhoon Yutu, the celebration this year pushed through last Saturday at the Paseo de Marianas in Garapan, drawing a huge crowd.
Creating additional excitement at the festival were three roundtrip tickets to Japan that Skymark Airlines Inc. had donated for the evening’s raffle to drum up more interest for its first ever regular international service, which will start on Nov. 29 between Saipan and Narita.
Japanese Society of the Northern Marianas chair Masato Tezuka said the festival was intended to celebrate the CNMI’s remarkable recovery from the damage caused by Yutu in October 2018.
Also, Tezuka said the festival is a good occasion to celebrate the new bridge between the CNMI and Japan that will be created by Skymark’s presence.
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang attended the celebration.
In a separate interview, the festival’s emcee, John Hosono, said that, as both Apatang and Tezuka had stated, Skymark will be a bridge between Japan and Saipan.
Hosono said he is very happy to see the large crowd despite the many events happening that same day throughout the island,
He acknowledged the role that Super Typhoon Yutu had in preventing the Japanese Society of the Northern Marianas from hosting the Autumn Festival last year. “Today we’re fortunate and thankful that the weather is nice,” he said.
The event started at 4pm with a charity bazaar as a fundraising to help the only Japanese school on the island that was damaged by Yutu.
The festival itself began at 5pm and ended at 9pm.
There were traditional demonstrations, songs, music, and dances. Food vendors sold popular Japanese foods. There were game booths for the children.
Hosono’s wish for next year is to have just one event for the day.
Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) said he’s happy to see the good turnout despite other big events held on that same day.
“I’m glad to see that the people made time to make it here. The Japanese influence has been very important. It’s been in the CNMI since the early 1900s. It’s nice to keep that going, pass it down from generation to generation,” Villagomez said.
The lawmaker said Japan was once the strongest market of the CNMI. He said it’s heartening to see that there are efforts being made to bring that market back.