SAIPAN — Saipan Mayor David Apatang on Thursday said, because the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat to public health, there will be no government-sponsored Fourth of July and 75th Liberation Day activities this year in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

"While many are encouraging us to go forward with a shortened version of our traditional weeklong festival heading into the Fourth of July, we think keeping our public safe from the pandemic is paramount to anything else," he said.

"Taking a risk and letting our guard down so we could celebrate the July Fourth holiday is not what we are all about. Once we are certain and given clearance from the COVID-19 Task Force, we can plan for next year's celebration," the mayor said.

"Our people come first. Putting off this year's celebration is wise and the only way to keep the threat of COVID-19 under control."

To boost the community's morale and still honor the spirit of the holiday, there will be a fireworks display this year at the Fishing Base pier, depending on how much funding is raised, he added.

"We will be asking for donations to help us pay a portion of the cost to have a 15- to 20-minute fireworks display," he said.

"To ensure control of large gatherings and the safety of our people, we will require those watching the fireworks display to remain in their parked cars."

The mayor added: "As we continue the fight against COVID-19, we encourage our residents to get vaccinated. We continue to hear that the vaccines do protect us from contracting the virus."

Last year, there was no Liberation Queen fundraising pageant, and Liberation Day was celebrated virtually via Zoom.

Liberation Day in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands commemorates the anniversary of the release of civilians from protective custody of the U.S. military at Camp Chalan Kanoa on July 4, 1946.

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