LibDay parade a crowd-drawer

Papago Lancheros wins float contest

Despite the festivities exceeding its deadline, yesterday’s 72nd Liberation Day parade was a resounding success, featuring a rare afternoon staging and drawing a record number of spectators.

Also, four floats were honored with prizes in the float competition. The Papago Lancheros float took home the $4,000 prize.

The parade was scheduled to end at exactly 7pm yesterday afternoon, but it exceeded that timeline due to the exhibitions that went over the allotted five minutes.

According to Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, the parade may have exceeded its deadline, but it still was better than expected.

The Liberation Day Committee and the Saipan Mayor’s Office staff were prepared for the possibility of the sun setting on the parade. A panel of lights below the grandstand was prepared to shine on each float. However, that proved unnecessary. The parade exceeded it scheduled time by exactly 20 minutes.

The parade consisted of 56 participating groups, ranging from 25 floats to car clubs and organizations that wanted to showcase themselves. Seventeen groups marched during the parade.

This year, the Saipan Mayor’s Office, the Office of the Governor, and the CNMI Museum entered their own floats in the parade—a first.

All performances incorporated the theme of the festival: “Celebrating culture, community, and service.”

The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs’ float, shaped like a giant lizard, amazed the crowd because of its craftsmanship and its creativity. The office created an enormous hilitai float.

This was also the first time for Imperial Pacific International Ltd. to join the parade. It had the largest number of participants in its float and marching group. Imperial Pacific also entertained the crowd with a short and energetic lion dance.

The Lady Diann Foundation brought a whimsical feel to the parade by incorporating Spongebob Squarepants in their float.

For this year’s float competition, the judges chose four floats that made the best impression. The first place award was given to the Papago Lancheros, winning them $4,000.

Second place was awarded to the Department of Corrections, winning it $3,000.

Third place was awarded to the Carolinian Affairs Office, winning it $2,000.

Fourth place went to TanHoldings, which won $1,000.

There were 11 floats that competed in the float competition and only the Top 4 were awarded.

Although no hard figures were immediately available from the police, it was estimated by many spectators that this year’s parade drew a bigger crowd compared to last year’s.

According to Apatang, the crowd yesterday seemed bigger than the previous year’s parade and could possibly be because of the time change.

Kimberly A. Bautista

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