A bagful of wishes and gift requests

Posted on Dec 07 2011

From an X-Box to the release of tax rebate checks and repeal of Article 12, members and guests of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce asked “Santa Claus” for the things they want for Christmas during the Chamber’s general membership meeting at Fiesta Resort & Spa in Garapan yesterday.

While seated on Santa’s lap, a male student asked for an X-Box. Then there was Rey Perez of Hard Rock Café wishing for the release of tax rebate checks.

Chamber executive director Richard Pierce, during his turn, wished for “two to three good garment factories” on Saipan to manufacture Santa’s clothes, for example, and help revive the CNMI economy.

Santa Claus, with Mrs. Santa by his side, told Pierce that he’s old but if his memory serves him right, “Didn’t that get you into trouble years back?”

When businessman Bud White’s turn came, he asked Santa Claus to help him collect from the CNMI government some $100,000 in receivables. When William Wanket, dressed as Santa Claus, and White, came face to face, some members of the audience thought they were twins.

Northern Marianas College president Sharon Hart had a different Christmas wish—that all the high school students present at the Chamber meeting would be able to finish college and be the force to turn the CNMI economy around.

Santa Claus was the Chamber’s surprise visitor, giving members and guests the chance to personally tell him their holiday wishes.

On a serious note, Santa Claus said that Christmas is not about gifts and money, but “about being nice to each other.”

“I’d like to see everybody smile,” he said, adding that he’s saddened to read and hear only negative news. He wishes there will be good news as well.

Chamber president Douglas Brennan, after enumerating the somber economic realities facing the CNMI, brought up a “happier note.” Brennan said the USS Columbia recently made its maiden voyage to Saipan for rest and recreation, and its commander, Dennis Klein, “had nothing but nice things to say about the island and mentioned that Saipan came highly recommended by other ships in the fleet.”

“This is exactly the kind of reputation we want. We need to continue our efforts in this regard and take our hospitality to the next level,” he said.

Military ships anchored off the Saipan lagoon alone each contribute over $1 million to the CNMI economy annually, including the purchase of fuel, maintenance, and supply services.

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