60-plus booths at 5-night LibDay festivities


An ROTC color guard performs flag duties during the opening ceremony for the Liberation Day Festival last Thursday at the Garapan Fishing Base in Kristo Rai. (CHRYSTAL MARINO)

This year’s Liberation Day festivities in the CNMI kicked off last Thursday at the Garapan Fishing Base across Kristo Rai Church, marking the start of the five-night celebration that culminates in today’s parade on Beach Road.

The theme of this year’s Liberation Day event is “Honoring Our Legacy While Riding the Waves of Change,’” and will conclude tonight with a 30-minute fireworks display at 9pm at Garapan Fishing Base.

More than 60 businesses had booths at the festival grounds, giving the event a variety and mixture of both food and merchandise stalls, as well as amusement stalls such as Kids Tattoo’s Bounce the Balls and Bridge Capital’s Dunking Booth. Many families, as well as individuals, could be seen enjoying the festivities.

In his welcoming remarks, Saipan Mayor David Apatang recalled that the last time the CNMI had a grand Liberation Day celebration was in 2019, and the the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which means the CNMI has not had a Liberation Day celebration in two years.

“Our way of life dramatically changed overnight. We made it through the most harrowing moments of the pandemic, because we stayed together and had each other’s back. For two long years, we followed the 3 W’s. It was a very difficult time for many of us, as we had to put off many family and public social gatherings. But today, that has changed. We are back, and thank God for that,” he said. “Starting this evening we can say that we are returning to our pre-pandemic way of life. We are not out of the woods yet, so we must be responsible in protecting everyone around us.

“We’ve travelled a long way to get here. Let us enjoy this very important occasion. We should honor and remember those who perished in the battle of Saipan, to whom we dedicate this celebration in their memory,” Apatang added.

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