Babeldaob lit up with beautiful colors for the first time as Palau’s National Capitol, which lies at the heart of the big island, became fully decorated with Christmas ornaments and lights.

People from all walks of life gathered at the Capitol grounds yesterday evening, December 17, to witness the switching on of lights of the giant Christmas tree and at the same time see kids perform on the stage.

President Thomas Remengesau, Jr. told Island Times in an ambush interview that Babeldaob has been “traditionally not so lighted” and that as the capitol shines bright at night, the roads in Babeldaob are also starting to light up as new streetlights are installed.

“My message is that really we should strive to brighten our life,” Remengesau said.

“The whole spirit of Christmas is really strong among the young – the children, so we should always focus celebration of the holidays with the children in mind because that is important,” Remengesau added.

Children get hugs from Santa during the opening of Children’s Christmas Program on December 17 at the Capitol. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)

According to Remengesau, the lighting up of the capitol is inspired from­ places in other countries that transform into colorful­ parks during the Christmas season where families and tourists could gather together.

“It’s a well-decorated place for families to bring their children and enjoy some quality time. Tourists could come here and also take advantage of the fact that we have a capitol here and it’s well-lighted. There’s a nice open ground and they can bring home some good memories,” Remengesau said.

The children who witnessed the event also had the chance to receive gifts and take a photo with “Santa.”

The gift-giving and lighting of the Capitol, according to the President, was made possible with the cooperation of the private sector and the community.

The Christmas lights will be every night for the Christmas season and each night, programs hosted by different institutions will also be conducted for the public to enjoy. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)