Three local schools—Cha Cha Oceanview Junior High School, Kagman High School, and Tanapag Elementary School—created ornaments for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands State Tree located in Washington, D.C.
The CNMI State tree was featured during the Christmas Pageant of Peace 2004, which celebrated the 81st year of the lighting of the National Christmas Tree by President George W. Bush on Dec. 2, 2004 at 5pm. (ET).
“More than a quarter million visitors will stroll the Pathway of Peace during this Christmas season. Since 1954, the State Trees have been an integral part of the Pageant. Every year, visitors bring their families to the park to enjoy the variety of decorations and to find ‘their’ tree,” said Audrey Hartzell, state tree coordinator for the Pathway of Peace. “When the President lights the national tree, he also lights all 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia trees,” Harzell said.
The national Christmas tree itself is a live 40-foot Colorado blue spruce transplanted from York, Pennsylvania to its present site on the Ellipse. Every year, General Electric designers decorate the tree with thousands of lights designed specifically for this event.
The first tree was lit in the nation’s capital in 1913. About 20,000 people crowded the East Plaza of the U.S. Capitol to hear the U.S. Marine Band and join the festivities. During World War I, the event was suspended, but it returned to the U.S. Capitol in 1918. The lighting of the National Christmas Tree was moved to the White House in 1923. In the President’s Park, just south of the White House, President Calvin Coolidge turned the switch to light up a cut fir tree from his native Vermont. For 81 years, this presidential tradition has continued.
The CNMI students made different types of ornaments from a variety of materials including those unique to the islands. The students used white and colored cardboard papers patterned in the shape of Christmas wreaths, stars, and hearts. They also used Styrofoam balls. The ornaments were decorated with mini pine cones from the island’s pine tree “ga’gu” seeds from the bountiful tangan tangan trees, pandanas birds made of coconut fronds and sea shells collected on the island beaches. To brighten the ornaments, glitters and metallic paper and ribbons were used as well. Some of the ornaments were drawings painted by the students depicting the CNMI official seal.
“The participation by our schools is one that we can all take pride in. The school deserves our commendation for representing the CNMI in this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony. I commend and extend my si yuus maase to the teachers, and most especially the students for the effort put into making this project a great success,” said Resident Representative Pete A. Tenorio.
The Christmas Pageant of Peace will continue through Dec. 30, 2004 with musical programs held each evening from 6pm to 9pm featuring volunteer choirs, bands and other musical groups from the greater Washington, D.C. area, and around the nation. The trees will remain lighted until Jan. 1, 2005.