Torres gave this message as he led last night’s lighting ceremony of the 25-foot Christmas tree located at the parking lot of the Pedro P. Tenorio Multipurpose Center in Susupe.
The Christmas tree is a joint project of the Office of the Governor, the Women’s Affairs Office, the Marianas Visitors Authority, Department of Public Works, Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Corrections, and the Department of Public Safety.
Torres, in a brief interview with Saipan Tribune, said the Christmas tree symbolizes how people must learn to appreciate life.
“We know that we’ve been through a lot this year. There’s the Internet outage and typhoons Soudelor and Champi, but in challenge after challenge the people of the CNMI showed that they can recover,” Torres said. “Becoming one community despite all the hardships is a reason for us to celebrate. Seeing the star on top of the Christmas tree symbolizes hope and how we must appreciate life in general. It brings back the holiday spirit to the kids and all of us. ”
Torres said the tree must also remind everyone to be thankful for all the blessings. “We must thank Jesus, appreciate the season, and keep the holiday spirit alive.”
He then thanked everyone who became part of the project in putting up the tree on short notice. “A lot of people were involved with this project. Joining and working together to finish this is an accomplishment. The people are thankful for your combined efforts,” he said.
Lucy Aldan, a staff of Women’s Affairs Office director Doris Drew who has been a part of the project for 15 years, said they were supposed to work on the project one week after Thanksgiving but “everyone was busy with other things.”
“Some are still clearing debris left by several typhoons while others were busy with other stuff. Good thing I can always count on a lot of volunteers from various government agencies for their help,” Aldan told Saipan Tribune, citing the five days it took them to complete the tree.
The tree lighting ceremony was supposed to take place last Friday, Dec. 11, but bad weather botched the schedule, forcing the organizers to move it to yesterday.
“Now that it is finally done, I can now have a good night’s sleep,” Aldan said with a laugh.
She thanked all the agencies that were involved with the project but reserved the biggest appreciation to the inmates from the Department of Corrections.
“The boys also made this possible. They were really eager to help prepare everything. That’s why I’ve been talking to them and giving them advice not to do anymore what they did once they again became part of the community,” said Aldan.
All decorations—from the ribbons and garlands, to the balls and lights—were the same ones used last year. They also took small tree branches and spray painted them silver and gold.
Torres’ wife Diann and their kids, press secretary Ivan Blanco, along with Cabinet secretaries James Ada (Public Works) and Richard Seman (Lands and Natural Resources), commissioners Robert Guerrero (Corrections) and James Deleon Guerrero (Public Safety), Parks and Recreation director Eli Cabrera, Drew, MVA managing director Perry Tenorio, and several staff of their respective offices witnessed the lighting ceremony.