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American Samoa residents last to ring in the New Year

Church services and parties will top the list of activities when American Samoa welcomes in 2014 at the stroke of 12 midnight tonight, the last in the U.S. “family” to do so. Guam in the Northern Pacific will be the first U.S. possession to welcome in the New Year.


Samoa, which moved to the other side of the International Dateline two 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 with open arms 2014, as territorial leaders hoping for a blessed one, especially in terms of the economy.


Samoa News received word since last Friday that some residents plan to head to Poloa around 6p.m. today to watch the last sunset of the year and Poloa residents are looking forward to sitting on the side of the road, or on the beach, to watch the sun slowly vanish in the distance. There is hope of clear weather so that those on the Poloa shoreline have a better view.


This is the third year American Samoa is celebrating being the “last sunset of the year”; and for those who follow Chinese astrology — 2014 greets the Year of the Horse on Feb. 04, 2014, bidding farewell to the 2013 Year of the Snake.


Many residents plan to attend New Year’s Eve church services both on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. 


A tradition for the Methodist Church on New Year’s Eve service is expected to attract new visitors. The 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, where trees about 10- 15 feet high are decorated 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 first to the church and village leaders, the elders in the church, invited guests and finally to church members.


Many restaurants and nightclubs in the territory are planning big New Year’s Eve parties with free champagne to toast in 2014. Check out yesterday and today’s editions of Samoa News for New Year celebration specials.


Stores are also expecting to pick up additional business today especially with yesterday being the government’s pay day. Food and liquor are expected to be the hot items for buyers.


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


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. Police will continue their on-going holiday enforcement program, which includes road-blocks at designated but unannounced locations.


It’s unclear whether Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga will sign before midnight any prison inmates’ request 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 the homemade Samoan cannons or “fagaofe”, which began to sound across the territory on Christmas Eve.


In the meantime, New Year’s Eve celebration in the United States at Times Square in New York City, will be aired live on television and watched by millions of Americans, with portions of it to be seen by local residents on CNN’s special broadcast, as the network started coverage yesterday evening (local time), when it was already New Year’s Eve in other parts of the world. The event culminates with a crystal ball, dropping at midnight.


Jan. 1, 2014 has already been declared by the governor as a holiday in American Samoa with ASG offices, as well as many local businesses closed, including both banks. Today, ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank opens from 9a.m. to 12noon while Bank of Hawai’i has usual business hours.


Samoa News will not publish tomorrow in observance of the holiday and will return on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.  Visit the website for breaking news and updates.