Christmas in the Marianas got off to a merry start when the first ever Christmas Village, hosted by the Lady Diann Foundation, was unveiled to the public last Sunday evening.
Twinkling lights were turned on Sunday and will be turned on every night in anticipation of the holiday season. The lights will shut off at 9pm on weekdays and at 11pm on weekends.
After several trial runs, the village was officially lit Sunday by first lady Diann Torres and Miss Marianas Peachy Quitugua and the public visited the different Christmas-themed houses made by different agencies across the island. Voting for the People’s Choice Award also began.
Geri Dela Cruz, executive director for Imperial Pacific International, Ltd.’s Corporate Social Responsibility team, said, “Everyone put so much effort into it [house making]. I think every agency here takes pride in the work that they’ve done and in my books, everyone is a winner. There was so much work done and the People’s Choice Award really is just icing on the cake.”
As with the lighting of the village, the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library will also present Christmas movies on a pop-up screen for the public every Friday.
“It [village] really came about with first lady Diann Torres and her planning group thinking about a central location for people to come with their kids during the night to just really enjoy the spirit of Christmas. So what better way to do things other than make it so that everyone, as well as private and public agencies, can participate,” said Dela Cruz. “For the first day…I consider it a success. It really is something the public should look forward to.”
Imperial Pacific International, Ltd. took care of the logistics for the event. Some of the work they put into the event consisted of building fences that served as boundaries between houses, built the large bridge in one half of the village, as well as participated and built a booth of their own.
Torres said, “During the same time last year, Christmas season 2015, every member of our community was struggling to recover from a devastating super typhoon. Homes were toppled, a number of businesses were forced to shut down, and commodities were scarce. Moreover, we lost our beloved late governor Inos. Last year’s Christmas season was a trying season for us all. Although we are not a 100 percent, we hope to defuse the challenges that get in our way of celebrating our favorite time of the year.”
Joseph Ray, an attendee of the event, said, “It really feels like Christmas when you come inside the village. Instead of just lighting a tree that everyone can see, they decided to create a bunch of houses that the people can participate in and that’s nice.”