Despite an early rainfall that hit the parade route before the start of the 73rd Liberation Day Parade, the sun later appeared with a vengeance and dried up the parade route on time, with hundreds of spectators lining the entire stretch of the parade route from the National Office Supply to the Garapan Fishing Base.
The parade’s grand marshal, TanHoldings president and CEO Jerry Tan, led a total of 44 participating groups and floats, with motorcycle-riding groups taking the lead in revving everybody’s spirits up at the head of the parade.
Of particular note in this year’s parade was the participation of Burke Waldron, a 95-year old World War II veteran.
A 30-minute fireworks display was later held at 9pm at the Garapan Fishing Base. This year’s theme was “Marianas Strong” and many floats highlighted that trait.
There were six non-competition floats at the parade: Herman’s Modern Bakery, The Office of Youth Affairs (with the offices of Indigenous Affairs, Women’s Affairs, and Northern Islands Mayor’s Office), Lady Diann Torres Foundation, Department of Public Works, Saipan Mayor’s Office (with the CNMI Museum), and the Liberation Day Royal Court.
The eight competition floats were the Governor’s Office (with the Carolinian Affairs Office), TanHoldings, Marianas Visitors Authority, Department of Corrections, Eusebio Borja, 180 Productions, the United Filipino Organization, and the Office of Aging.
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang was amazed at what all the floats showed, saying it was hard to decide which one would be the winner of the float competition, but they are all winners in his book.
He was also happy to see that the parade was finished at an earlier time. “It’s great to see that we were able to complete the parade on time, and now spectators are able to go home in time and enjoy the rest of the night,” Apatang added.
Apatag feels that this parade is very special. In an interview with Saipan Tribune he said, “Although we just went through [Super Typhoon] Yutu, people came out to show their support with the spirit of [being] together. …I want to thank our community for coming out to watch and participate in this event. This will hopefully bring up our spirits and continue to move forward.”
Rep. Luis John Castro (R-Saipan) was thrilled to see all the competing floats this year. “I believe that the floats took the theme of ‘Marianas Strong’ to the next level, which is great for myself and all the spectators,” Castro said.
The winners of the float competition were to be announced last night. However, when asked for their opinions, many spectators said the winning floats could be the floats from the 180 Production, the United Filipino Organization, and the Office of Aging.
The 180 Production float amazed spectators with a rap about finding grace and fighting personal evils. The United Filipino Organization’s float displayed a wrecked car over the float and the designs of the utt and latte stone, resembling the CNMI flag.
The Office of Aging’s float displayed “Strength Through Adversity” while also creating references to the Game of Thrones series, with participants clad in fake armors.
Overall, Apatang thanked all the participants, sponsors, and the spectators for appearing and hopes that next year’s Liberation Day parade “goes as well as this year’s parade.” (With Reica Ramirez)