OFFICIAL AMERICAN SAMOA CENTENNIAL FLAG DAY CELEBRATION STARTS ON SATURDAY

By Fili Sagapolutele Special to the Pacific Islands Report

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (April 13, 2000)---Governor Tauese Sunia has issued a public announcement stating that the Centennial festivities for Flag Day 2000 will begin Saturday, April 15, 2000 and continue through Friday, April 21, 2000.

The governor said that the 100th anniversary of the raising of the U.S. flag over the islands of American Samoa is a special occasion which "belongs to each and every citizen living in American Samoa." He extended a personal invitation to the general public to attend and participate in this year's activities and programs.

The governor's public invitation was accompanied by a brief summary of the Flag Day events beginning with the weeklong Performing Arts Festival, sponsored by the Arts Council.

The events for Flag Day week begin on Sunday, April 16. The Sunday program begins with the toiling of church bells at 9:00 a.m. across the Samoan islands. At 6:00 p.m. that evening the Centennial National Church Service will be held at the Fagatogo Malae. Led by Rev. Elder Panama Mutu of the CCCAS, Leone, believed to the eldest church minister still active in church ministry, the religious service will involve ministers and choirs from the main church denominations. Ministers with parts to play in the service include Catechist Teofilo Laulu of the Aua Catholic Church, Rev. Esera Tavai of the Assembly of God Church, Puapua and Rev. Faataape Lavata'i of the CCCAS, Ta'u. Choirs which have been selected to provide hymns are Aua Catholic Choir, Nu'uuli Pentecostal Choir and the Pago Pago, Assembly of God Choir. The main sermon will be delivered by Rev. Elder Panama Mutu. Governor Tauese Sunia will present remarks.

The official flag raising ceremony on Monday, April 17 is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. Featured speakers will be Governor Tauese Sunia, the Under Secretary of the U.S. Navy, Hon. Jerry M. Hultin, and a representative from the U.S. Interior Department.

Centennial Committee Co-chair, Lt. Governor Togiola Tulafono, said there will be a few surprises in the flag raising ceremony. (Togiola was one of the brains behind the unforgettable torch lightning ceremony for the 1997 Mini South Pacific Games.) A highlight of the flag raising ceremony will be the recognition of the signatories of the 1900 Deed of Cession. Togiola is keeping the rest of the details secret.

At 11:30 a.m. the Ava Fa'atupu (royal ava ceremony) will be provided by the District of Sua and Vaifanua, followed an hour later by a luncheon at the Rainmaker Hotel for VIP's. The five-mile fautasi race is set to begin at around 12:30p.m. At the same time, a cricket match will get under way at the Veterans Memorial Stadium.

At 2:00 p.m. Monday, the unveiling of the Centennial stamp will be held at Utulei Beach. A mail carrier, dressed in the uniform of the U.S. Postal Service, is scheduled to sail in on a canoe, and hand the stamp over to Governor Tauese and one of three Commissioners from the U.S. Postal Commission. Entertainment by the American Samoa Community College will follow. According to Togiola there are a lot of orders pending for the stamp.

At 7:00 p.m., the Governor's official Flag Day reception will be held at the Rainmaker Hotel.

Tuesday is Military Recognition Day and the program that day will start with a Centennial Parade bigger than Monday's and will feature a contingent of Samoan navy personnel dressed in the original uniform of the "Fitafita Guard," a black lavalava with red stripes and a white sleeveless T-shirt.

To ensure that the parade proceeds smoothly, Lt. Governor Togiola has scheduled a parade rehearsal for 12 noon on Saturday and has asked all organizations taking part to have a representative present. Several floats are entered in the parade.

VIP guests will have lunch at the Stadium VIP lounge after the parade on Tuesday and then settle down to the beginning of the traditional song and dance performances by local villages and groups from Samoa.

A schedule of the village entertainment was finalized only yesterday.

The traditional entertainment will continue throughout the week with local groups alternating with those from Samoa. A church group from New Zealand is also listed on the program.

Tuesday's program rounds off with a reception hosted by the Fono at the Fono Guesthouse.

For music lovers, the Navy/Marine Band will offer a concert at the Fagatogo Malae on Wednesday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m.

The military musicians also will be joined by the Samoa Police Band and any local bands that want to perform, in a band exhibition at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, April 17 at the Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The consolation fautasi race among the bottom four placings in the two races on Monday is scheduled for Thursday, at a time to be announced later.

The day's events will conclude with a party hosted by the American Samoa Centennial Commission at the Lt. Governor's residence in Utulei.

The final day of Flag Day, Friday, April 21 will feature more traditional entertainment, the fautasi championship race between the top six finalists and the awarding of prizes.

The American Samoa Government will shut down for a week, but only Monday and Friday have been declared official government holidays. ASG employees have been asked by the governor to help with Centennial related activities.

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