50 GROUPS, 3 GRAND MARSHALS, 21 FLOATS
Making up for lost time, the CNMI celebrated yesterday three years’ worth of Liberation Day parades that saw 50 groups, three grand marshals, and 21 floats snaking their way along a stretch of Beach Road that was lined on both sides with hundreds of spectators, some of whom have been camping out at the parade route the night before.
Billed as a celebration of the 74th, 75th, and 76th Liberation Day parades, the spectacle was on full display yesterday after being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with most people choosing not to wear a mask, complete with rain before and during the parade, which seems to be a yearly occurrence, but which ultimately did not deter the hundreds of people gathered up and down Beach Road.
This year’s Liberation Day theme is “Honoring Our Legacy as we Ride the Waves of Change” and was seen in the floats’ designs and performances that meshed both tradition and modernization, as they made their way from the National Office Supply to Garapan Fishing Base after a slight delay due to the rain.
The start of the parade itself kicked off with the roar and booming sound of motorcycles from the Young Gunz and Harley Davidson Group, followed by the Guam Army National Guard, which joined the parade for the first time right behind the three grand marshals—Estanislao Tudela “Stanley” McGinnis, Don A. Farrell, and Michael S. “Mike” Sablan—representing one for each anniversary of Liberation Day since it was last held in 2019.
Prior to the start of the parade, House Resolution 22-21 was presented to remember and honor Elias Parong Sablan for his dedication, contributions, and sacrifices for the people of Saipan post-World War II.
The 50 groups of colorfully clothed and decorated marchers and floats also showcased their performances and presented gifts to the delegates, including Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Sen. President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), and various U.S. military VIPs who were present.
Separately, in his message in the Liberation Day program, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said this year’s celebration of Liberation Day will be his last as mayor of Saipan as he will complete his term next year.
“As in all past Fourth of July Liberation Day celebrations since you made me your mayor, I owe you and all the Liberation Day committee volunteers that I had the honor of working side-by-side my profound gratitude,” he said.
“Working together with many Fourth of July Liberation Day celebration volunteers in my eight years as your mayor has been a very refreshing and rewarding experience. I am blessed by your professionalism and enthusiasm to share your incredible talents in making each year’s celebration an event for our residents and visitors to always remember. You are now a part of our island’s history and your individual and collective contributions in our traditional Fourth of July Liberation Day events will be the legacy others after would, I am sure, emulate for all future generations that call our island of Saipan home. I want to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors of the Fourth of July Liberation Day celebrations for all the years I have served as the mayor of Saipan.”
Later, when asked about the turnout of the parade and festivities, Apatang said, “I’m very happy for today’s celebration. The community is all out today to watch the parade and I’m very happy that we have this many floats today. It’s a very tremendous day for us as it’s the first time we have this in the last couple of years. I want to thank our community for continuing to support our July 4 activities.”
In fact, hours after the parade ended at noon, hundreds of people were still lined up along Beach Road, continuing their celebration with families and friends in tents and picnic tables that had been installed along the highway’s sides.
Festivities for this year’s Liberation Day Fair began last Thursday, June 30, and has over 60 booths.
Last night capped off the festivities with an explosive fireworks display over the Garapan Fishing Base.