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Ringing in the New Year with parties — and prayer

Church services and parties will top the list of activities when American Samoa welcomes in 2015 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 three 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 2015, as territorial leaders look forward to the New Year and hope for a robust economy.


The two Samoas got a bit of attention late last week and early this week when the Washington Post newspaper carried a story—which was redistributed by other news group on line— about crazy ways to welcome the New Year.


One suggestion was to be in Samoa for New Years Day, and then travel across the Dateline to American Samoa. By doing so dedicated revelers will be the “first and the last” people to welcome in 2015.


Some residents are hoping for excellent weather today so they can head to Poloa around 6p.m. 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.


In his New Year’s message, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said, “We embark upon the New Year with renewed hope and a genuine sense of commitment in offering ourselves for the service of others, while remaining true to the democratic principles of a free people.” (To read the Governor’s full message click on the multicolored box in left hand column that says “Where to find what you want in American Samoa”.)


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


A tradition for the Methodist Church on New Year’s Eve 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, is known as the “Po o Moli” or the Night of Lights, where trees from 10 to15 feet high are decorated with candy or flower ulas, yards of material, and 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. Stores are also expecting to pick up additional business today especially with Monday this week being a government payday.  Food and liquor are the hot items for buyers.


Bars and nightclubs are, however, reminded by the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board to comply with local laws, which prohibits 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 roadblocks at designated but unannounced locations.


In the meantime, the 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, dropped at midnight New York time.


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.


Samoa News print edition will not publish tomorrow in observance of the holiday and will also not publish on Friday, Jan. 2, 2015 due to shipping delays. The website, however, has all the news for you 24/7.


Samoa News print edition will return on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015.