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Ring-a-ding-ding: 2017 is in the air — May God bless us and keep us safe


Church services and parties will top the list of activities when American Samoa welcomes in 2017 at the stroke of 12 midnight tomorrow night, the last in the U.S. “family” to do so. Guam will be the first U.S. possession to welcome in the New Year.

Samoa, which moved to the other side of the International Dateline five years ago is the first country in the world to ring-in the New Year while American Samoa and Niue are the last places on earth to welcome 2017 with open arms, as territorial leaders hope for a blessed one, especially in terms of the economy, following many challenges especially in the fishing and canned tuna industries, with more fishing ground restrictions and Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., shutting down indefinitely its cannery operation.

Many residents are hopeful for rain-free and clear-skies for Tutuila so they can enjoy New Year’s Eve celebrations, including a chance to go out to Poloa village around 6p.m. to watch the last sunset of the year.

And for those who follow Chinese astrology — 2017 is the Year of the Rooster — the Chinese New Year falls on Jan. 28, 2017.

Top of the local list of “must do” for 2017 to be successful, is to attend New Year’s Eve church services before seeking the bubbly to ring-a-ding-ding the New Year in, which falls on a Sunday this time.

Expected to attract new visitors, is a tradition for the Methodist Church on New Year’s Eve service, which is carried out by the more than 15 parishes of the Methodist synod in the territory, known as the “Po o Moli” or the Night of Lights.

The service is where different families and church groups make trees, about 10- 15 feet high, and decorate them with candy or flower ulas, yards of material, food items such as chips, cookies, canned goods and boxes of saimin. And of course, some are decorated with just cash.

At the end of the service, which is after midnight, decorations from the trees are given out first to the church and village leaders, the elders in the church, invited guests and finally to church members.

Also, many restaurants and nightclubs in the territory are planning big New Year’s Eve parties with free champagne to toast in 2017.

Check out yesterday’s and today’s editions of Samoa News for New Year celebration specials.

Stores are also expecting to pick up additional business today and tomorrow with food and liquor expected to be the hot ticket items for buyers.

Bars and nightclubs are reminded by the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board to comply with local laws, which prohibit the sale of alcohol after 2 a.m., the normal closing time for bars and clubs. Retail stores are barred from selling beer or alcohol after 10 p.m.

Additionally, all sales of beer and alcohol in the stores, wholesale and retail, on Sunday are prohibited. Restaurants with liquor licenses are exempt from this law.

Perhaps the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the United States is the one at Times Square in New York City, and earlier this week workers put the finishing touches on the new crystal ball, which drops at midnight. The event is carried on live television and watched by millions of Americans, while local residents can watch it on CNN’s special broadcast.

As in past years, the sound of fireworks — illegal in American Samoa — will be heard island-wide, mixed with the noise of the homemade Samoan cannons or “fagaofe”, which began to sound across the territory before Christmas Eve.

American Samoa will officially observe the New Year’s Day holiday on Monday Jan. 2 with ASG offices, as well as many local businesses closed, including the local banks.

Local celebrations — for many residents — continue to Jan. 3, when Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga are sworn into office for their second four-year term at 12noon — which is also the same time that new members of the 35th Legislature take the oath of office. The Inauguration Day ceremony will be at the Fagatogo Pavilion.

Samoa News will not publish on Jan. 2 but will return on Jan. 3.