The CNMI’s traditional holiday event, the Christmas in the Marianas Festival, is back this year after being suspended in 2010 due to funding constraints, according to Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Perry Tenorio yesterday.
Tenorio said that participants in the yuletide song and dance competition have already met in San Antonio to prepare for the activity.
“We’re very interested in doing the festival this year and, as a matter of fact, our program manager is meeting today the representatives of the schools who will participate in the Christmas caroling contest,” he said.
This year will mark the ninth year of the contest, which usually draws hundreds of spectators to witness children celebrating the holiday season through caroling, dances, and float presentations.
The float competition may, however, not happen this year due to some still unresolved concerns such as logistics. A decision on the matter will be known this week.
Tenorio believes that the parade, as part of the float competition, is one of the best ways to share the spirit of the holidays with tourists.
Based on initial information, seven schools have already confirmed their participation.
Tenorio said the event is temporarily slated for Dec. 17 at the American Memorial Park and will involve hundreds of children parading from the Carolinian Utt to the park.
Saipan Tribune learned that MVA sets aside $12,000 each year for the event. The lack of funding in fiscal year 2011 prompted its suspension.
“This time we were able to plan ahead and our chief accountant [Donnie Militante] was instrumental in the budgeting for this activity. This program has been budgeted and it is within our expenditure plan this fiscal year 2012,” said Tenorio, who declined to discuss the amount allocated for the program this year.
MVA is appropriated $6.3 million under the current budget law. About 83 percent of that goes to the agency’s advertising and promotional activities.
The festival’s last grand prize winner in 2009 was Koblerville Elementary School. It will defend its title this year.
Winners of the competition are awarded cash prizes that mostly go to the students’ immediate needs in school.