Just like Santa, Saipan-da and his helpers were busy bringing holiday cheer to children on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year.
As part of its annual Happy Children in Paradise campaign and promotions for the holiday season, the Marianas Visitors Authority (MVA) gave away Saipan-da backpacks to visiting children arriving at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.
Passengers arriving on 15 flights on Dec. 24 and 25, 2017, were greeted by Saipan-da, Chamorritas in island attire, and MVA staff. Over 900 children ages 12 and younger received backpacks of the character, over 100 more than last Christmas.
“Saipan-da and his helpers had to work extra hard this Christmas Eve, as flights were delayed from Korea due to a snowstorm. But it was nice to see so many visiting children smile when they received their Christmas gifts,” said MVA marketing specialist Brenda Repeki, who has helped organized the giveaway for nearly 10 years.
MVA produced 16,000 backpacks for the summer phase of Happy Children in Paradise from July through September 2017. Saipan-da is a well-known, panda-like character well-received by children from all the NMI’s source markets and designed to keep the destination name in front of potential visitors from Asian countries.
After nearly two decades of service with the MVA, Saipan-da has announced his plans to retire at the end of 2018. (PR)