Parties, prayers, fagaofe set to ring in New Year 2012

Goodbye 2011 — Hello 2012

Church services and parties will top the list of activities when American Samoa welcomes in 2012 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.

This year, neighboring Samoa is no long partner with the territory to welcome the New Year, as they moved last night to the other side of the International Dateline, which means today is their New Year’s Eve — along with their main trading partners, New Zealand and Australia.

Samoa’s switch “will not affect us negatively,” Congressman Faleomavaega Eni said on a radio interview yesterday morning with San Francisco based KCBS-AM, adding that American Samoa’s business dealings are with the U.S.

He was interviewed by the station’s morning talk show on what impact, if any, the shifting of the International Dateline to the east of Samoa will have on American Samoa as well as the United States. (Samoa News was able to monitor the brief interview on the station’s live webcast).

As noted, American Samoa will be the last U.S. possession and the last place on earth to see the sunset in 2011, hopefully rain free.

Bars and nightclubs were this week 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.

New Year Day falls on a Sunday this year, and 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.

Police will be enforcing these provisions of the law on behalf of ABC, and law enforcement officials urge the public’s cooperation to ensure a safe New Year. They will be setting up roadblocks tonight and tomorrow night at unannounced locations.

It’s unclear whether Gov. Togiola will sign any prison inmates’ requests for pardon as part of the usual New Year’s agenda for a chief executive.

As in past years, the sound of fireworks — illegal in American Samoa — will be heard island-wide, mixed with the noise of homemade Samoan cannons or “fagaofe.”

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reminds travelers it’s illegal to take any type of fireworks (including sparklers) onboard a passenger airliner.

Many residents plan to attend New Year’s Eve church services tomorrow night and then Sunday morning for New Year’s Day. Tomorrow will also be a special day in the territory for the Samoa Bowl IX All Star Football match at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, which is free of charge.

Many restaurants and nightclubs in the territory are planning big New Year’s Eve parties with free champagne to toast in 2012. Check out today’s edition of Samoa News for New Year celebration specials.

Stores reported brisk business this week in food and liquor sales, and are prepared for any last minute customer needs today and tomorrow.

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 portions of it can be seen by local residents on CNN’s special broadcast.

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 both banks.

Samoa News will publish tomorrow the weekend edition of To’asavili but will not publish on Jan. 2. 



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