Holiday highlights on Guam

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Guam
Guam may not conjure up images of a typical winter holiday setting, but Christmas spirit and traditions thrive on this tropical paradise.
With illuminations that will begin lighting up the streets of Tumon on Dec. 17, a series of exciting annual holiday events have or will bring holiday cheer. The events range from the Holiday Lights and Snow Show in a shopping mall and beachside Nativity scene, to a New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
According to Sayumi Ishioka, who’s lived on Guam for long time and is part of the management at Micronesia Mall, there are a lot of outdoor parties going on throughout the season.
“Santa Claus forgoes his usual fuzzy ensemble for shorts and a T-shirt, and children spend Christmas on a white beach instead of a snow field,” Ishioka said.
Like in the States, the holiday season on Guam is a time for shopping.
“It is the busiest time for us,” Ishioka said. “So many visitors and residents came over to the mall to shop for gifts and souvenirs. I feel the holiday season on Guam is for shopping and outdoor parties.”
Approximately four miles of Pale San Vitores Road, also known as “Hotel Road” is decorated by beautiful Christmas decorations and special lighted displays featuring Santa Claus and cultural icons of Guam. This illumination project will remain lit until Jan. 20.
The Shop Guam e-Festival, which was started in 2012 may have helped this trend, as the global cooperative social media marketing campaign features an array of retail, dining and entertainment discounts packed into the holiday period on Guam.
However, with 85 percent of Guam’s 160,000 residents being Catholic, the season also reflects Christian traditions.
“More than the lights, gifts and parties during Christmas season, it’s the reason for the season that we have to give emphasis to,” says longtime resident Liza Francisco. “It’s the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. On Guam, it’s not as elaborate as in the Philippines.  It really depends on the person. But family get-togethers and activities like midnight Masses makes Christmas a busy season.”
“Many people attend December 24 midnight mass,” Francisco said. “Normally, they have family gatherings on the 25th. Almost all restaurants are fully booked on Christmas Day, especially restaurants in major hotels during lunch and dinnertime.”
No matter what your preferences is, there should be plenty to do on island to ring in the holiday season. Get out and enjoy it!

Holiday Happenings: Festive events you can check out this holiday season!

Hilton Holiday Train
The Hilton Holiday Train will be on display through the first week in January, operating from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. As part of a longstanding tradition, the Hilton has always selected a local charity to benefit from the train sponsorship. This year, the hotel selected the VARO (Victim advocates reaching out). The train launch ceremony took place on Dec. 7 and a check was presented to the VARO in the amount of $3,000. For more information, call 646-1835.
Holiday Lights and Snow Show at the Micronesia Mall in Dededo
Micronesia Mall runs the Holiday Lights and Snow Show in its center court throughout the holiday season. A 30-foot Christmas tree adorned with more than 40,000 LED lights is featured in the center. There is a train circling the tree that children can ride for $1. Jolly old Saint Nick smiles from the center as children line up to whisper their Christmas wishes. Snow show is performed once an hour between 1 and 8 p.m. (until 9 p.m. for Dec. 7-10, and until 10 p.m. for Dec. 14-23).  The mall closes at 9 p.m. For more information, call Micronesia Mall at 632-8881.
“Holiday Tide-ings” GVB Christmas Village
The annual Christmas Village illumination by Guam Visitors Bureau will kick off with ceremony next to Tumon Sands Plaza on Dec. 17. This year’s theme is called “Holiday Tide-ings,” which highlights Guam’s marine life and the ocean. The theme celebrates Guam’s heritage and culture by reinterpreting the manger scene with Chamorro icons and symbols. Look for an ocean-themed tunnel at the Christmas Village that will take visitors to several themed areas of underwater habitats that hold large topiaries of marine creatures. The Christmas Village will be open nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. (Mon. – Thu.) and 6 to 11 p.m. (Fri. – Sun.) through Jan. 20. For more information, call 646-5278.
2018 Peace Festival
Hosted by the Department of Chamorro Affairs, the annual Peace Festival is a great way to get into the spirit of Christmas and remember the reason for the season. Having kicked off on Dec. 5, this year’s events include a Christmas light display from the Guam Museum to Chamorro Village, as well as holiday performances at the Guam Museum Outdoor Stage. Admission is free. Open nightly 6-9 p.m. though Jan. 6. For more information, call Guam Museum at 989-4455.
Lutheran Church of Guam
Everyone is invited to annual Christmas Eve candlelight caroling service on Dec. 24 at 9 p.m. Join them in welcoming Rev. Dr. Bryan Salminen as the new senior pastor of Lutheran Church of Guam. For more information, call 477-8595.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
To celebrate New Year’s, the Guam Visitors Bureau lights up the night sky with fireworks off Tumon Gulf at midnight Jan. 1. You can enjoy the 10-minute fireworks display on Tumon Beach. For details, email or call 646-5278.
Friary Christmas Display at Agana Shopping Center
Friary Christmas Display is presented at the Expo Hall on the 2nd floor of Agana Shopping Center. The Christmas display can be viewed from 6 to 9 p.m. nightly until Jan. 2. The display showcases across more than 8,000 square feet, and features a train set, Christmas trees, lights, Nativity scenes, a 40-foot igloo, giant nutcrackers, a free Christmas photo booth, local talent sharing Christmas carols and more. Admission is free. For details, call 472-6339.
Holiday Gingerbread House
The lobby of the Hyatt Regency Guam is home to the island’s largest gingerbread house. The tradition of the “Holiday Gingerbread House” started in 2011 when Hyatt engineers and the pastry team collaborated to construct the giant house. The magical house stands 12-feet tall and was constructed with approximately 400 sheets of fresh-baked gingerbread bricks and 800 pounds of royal icing, festively adorned with colorful candies, cookies and sweets. The Holiday Gingerbread House will be on display through Jan. 7. Everyone is also invited to help decorate the life-sized Gingerbread House with a personalized cookie from 5 - 6 p.m. daily. The personalized cookies may be purchased at The Deli and all proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish® Guam and CNMI. For more information, call 647-1234.

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