IPI holds dazzling fireworks display

CEO says no money spent on fireworks; $2.3M came in to pay employees’ payrolls

A 30-minute fireworks display lights up the front of the Imperial Pacific Resort last Sunday night.

The skies over western Garapan were lit up with a glittering fireworks display last Sunday night after Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC held a 30-minute fireworks display in front of its casino/resort project.

The lights were turned on once again at the Imperial Pacific Resort building, creating an ambience and welcoming feel to their employees, families, former employees, and some community members who gathered together minutes before the 8pm schedule display.

At 8pm, IPI chief executive officer Donald Browne and IPI vice president for Public Affairs Tao Xing led the crowd of mostly children across the street to clear the building’s premises and place them at an optimum vantage point to watch the display. Lights at the Imperial Pacific Resort building were then turned off. Shortly after Browne spoke to employees, successive explosions were heard from the front area of IPR building, with sparks and lights shooting straight up to the sky before exploding into glittering displays. Some colorful fireworks formed dazzling spirals, while others drifted down in glittering silver showers. Some parents put their children on their shoulders to get a better view of the display. Many in the crowd “oohed” and “aahed” at the dazzling display.

Browne later said in an interview said IPI did not pay for the fireworks as they were donated. He declined to name the donor, besides describing the person as a benefactor.

Browne also disclosed that some $2.3 million have been infused into the company and that this will take care of the employees’ six payrolls. He said the money is a loan from a credit facility.

“So employees got very excited,” he said.

Browne said their problem with a bank for their payroll has already been rectified.

As to the question of why IPI had to have a fireworks display when they have problems paying their employees, Browne reiterated that IPI didn’t spend any on the fireworks as it was just a donation.

Browne said not one of them know how much the fireworks costs as their involvement is only to invite their employees to watch it. The CEO said the fireworks display was intended for their employees and their families.

He said the fireworks display was planned as a show of appreciation to their employees. “So obviously, you know, this is all we can do for now,” Browne said.

He said they expect to hold a bigger party sometime this year and possibly upon the reopening of the casino.

In his brief speech to employees on the side of the road, Browne said that, on behalf of the board of IPI, himself, and Tao Xing and the staff, they are thankful to everybody for coming and taking time out of their busy schedule.

Browne said the fireworks display is just a small show of appreciation to their employees “for the great job that they have done and continue to have done.”

He noted that Typhoon Soudelor hit in 2015 and they kept going, then Super Typhoon Yutu happened in 2018 and they still kept going. And now, in 2020 and 2021, there is COVID-19, which he described as the biggest pandemic since the 1930s and has been devastating economically.

“We’re not giving up. The employees will not give up. So we salute the employees and their families and friends that have endured this with us,” Browne said.

An IPI employee who was among those furloughed since last April said the money to buy the fireworks should have been used instead to purchase food for the staff.

“Witnessing the fireworks is like watching our money being burned,” said the employee, who requested anonymity.

Another furloughed employee said she only managed to survive from donations and from her mother outside the CNMI who has been sending her money.

Senate President Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota), who was seen watching the fireworks, said he and his wife were about to have a dinner at a nearby restaurant when they saw the fireworks. He described the display as “nice.”

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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