It’s officially Christmas season in the CNMI.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, first Lady Diann T. Torres, Santa Claus, and several of the community’s children kicked off “Christmas on the Hill” with a countdown for the lighting of the giant Christmas tree last Sunday on Capital Hill.
That signaled the lighting up of several Christmas-themed displays scattered throughout government offices on Capital Hill. About 50 partnerships between government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations with special holiday themes came together for the socially-distant Christmas village.
According to the first lady Diann Torres, community members will be able to enjoy these displays every day this Christmas season, from 6pm until the morning.
“Your presence tonight brings me happiness, brings me joy, and normalcy this season. It is always the wish of the governor, the lieutenant governor [Arnold I. Palacios], [Palacios’ wife] Wella Palacios, and myself to bring joy, happiness, and good tidings to each one of you [and] your families near and far,” said first lady Diann Torres.
Despite the many challenges of 2020 and all the protocols that everyone must adhere to protect from the COVID-19 virus, first lady Diann Torres thanked the CNMI community for making the CNMI one of the “safest places on U.S. soil.”
“Today, we try to live with new normalcy—mask, social distancing—but we must continue to do that, to ensure that we are healthy, we are strong but, most importantly, we are alive. …We are alive, and we are here in celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ,” she said. She thanked their many partners that made the event a success, adding that they could not have had a more successful event without them.
“We ask that you continue to reach out, continue to spread the love, and be positive, as we all are going through a rough time,” said the first lady.
Christmas in the Marianas used to be celebrated with a Christmas Village and the giant Christmas tree at the grounds of the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe. This is the first time it is being done on Capital Hill.
Shirley Ogumoro, who is the special assistant for the Woman’s Affairs Office, explained that the goal of Christmas on the Hill is to make it a “magical Christmas” this year with a drive-thru display despite the COVID-19 restrictions.
Participants in the event include Bridge Capital, Commonwealth Cancer Association, Commonwealth Women’s Association, Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, Herman’s Bakery, Isa Villa, IT&E, Kautz Glass, Kensington Saipan Hotel, Lady Diann Torres Foundation, Miss Northern Marianas Earth, NMI Girl Scouts, Pacifica Insurance, TanHoldings, and YCO.
The buildings that were lit on Capital Hill are the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Department of Finance, Department of Commerce, the CNMI Substance Abuse Addictions & Rehabilitation Program, the CNMI Board of Parole, the Department of Labor, the CNMI Women’s Affairs Office partnered with Herman’s Modern Bakery, the Commonwealth Bureau of Military Affairs, the CNMI Indigenous Affairs Office and the Department of Public Lands, the CNMI Office of Planning and Development, the Northern Islands Mayor’s Office and the Carolinian Affairs Office, CNMI Scholarship Office, the Marianas Visitors Authority, the Office of Veterans Affairs, and more.