Samoa’s Christmas Wonderland

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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Walking through the Craig's Complex at Ululoloa at night is simply a magical experience.

With thousands of lights flashing all around, who said Samoa does not have a Christmas Wonderland.

Ask the hundreds of children who have been through the complex for the past few days and they will tell you it’s a Christmas period they will remember.

With a display of lights never seen before in Samoa and fun activities for children, the Craig Construction Ltd. compound has been transformed to give the children of Samoa a Christmas to remember.

Owner of the compound and Founder of Craig Construction, Francis Craig, said the initiative was to help give those families who cannot afford Christmas decorations a place to bring their children to enjoy and feel the magic of Christmas.

“The lights are something that the family discussed before Christmas,” he told the Samoa Observer.

“We wanted to put out something that would really help out some families in giving them a feeling of the spirit of Christmas.

“It is our understanding that many families cannot afford to buy Christmas lights but because of the lights we have put up, it has really affected them.

“So they were happy to bring their family down and just sit around all night. One night we found it hard to close down the place because people were still sitting around.

“We actually never wanted to advertise it out to the public; our intentions were to put up lights but when we did, people would come and were impressed.

“When they would drive by, we would let them come in and have a look. People were so grateful; they would say that it is something they have never seen before.”

Mr. Craig added they then offered some snacks and fun activities for children so that they would have a much more memorable Christmas this year.

He said charging people was never an option for him.

“We welcomed whoever wanted to come in to have a look and to take photos,” Mr. Craig said.“We never wanted to charge anyone for it. Not only were they able to come in free of charge, but we also put out some popcorns and snacks.

“We actually charged for the popcorn, but then we decided not to anymore. So we ended up providing some cakes, candy and popcorn to the children.

“We also played some Christmas carols to give out that Christmas feeling. Everyone has really enjoyed it, especially the children.”

Asked what moved him to do such a magical initiative, Mr. Craig explained that it aligns well with what’s taught at his church.

Being a member of the Latter Day Saints has taught him to give to those who cannot afford it.

“The scripture says, light the world,” he said.“That is the message from our church; we are taught to light the world and share with some families who cannot afford things.

“That’s the main reason we don’t want to charge people. I know that for the children, this will be something that they would never forget.

“So we have decided to make this an annual event, but we will try to make it better next year. We have so many people come by or call saying thank you.

“They tell us that this is something very special for them. We hope to work out a better system.”

But such an initiative surely does not come cheap. When asked about the cost, Mr. Craig explained that it’s not so much about the expenses, but rather the joy the lights have given the children that mattered most.

SAMOA'S CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND: The lights at the Craig compound at Ululoloa which has been visited by hundreds of locals since they were turned on. Photo / Misiona Simo
SAMOA'S CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND: The lights at the Craig compound at Ululoloa which has been visited by hundreds of locals since they were turned on. Photo / Misiona Simo

“It is very expensive and it is definitely not easy,” he said.

“We have tried to make the spacing and the placing of the lights very consistent in order to really stand out. The lights themselves are very expensive.

“With regards to the power, many of our lights are L.E.D. so it is easy on the power, but the spotlights are a different story.

“Although this is expensive, we don’t think about the cost and we can handle it.”

But although he opened his gates freely, Mr. Craig explains that they have run into some issues with a few members of the public.

“We have had a few problems along the way,” he began.“We usually let people bring the cars inside for the sake of the elderly who find it hard to walk around, but then there were a few cars we couldn’t control and would drive fast with the children playing around the driveway.

“When our security would tell them to slow down, they would be sworn at so we stopped allowing vehicles into the compound. They can park outside and stroll in to have a look.

“We are quite happy with that system now.”

And with Christmas firmly behind us, Mr. Craig expressed his utmost joy in being able to bring joy to different families of Samoa.

“I would like to say, as a family we are so happy to put up these lights for the benefit of our people in Samoa,” he said.

“The scripture says to light the world and to let your light shine out. I know for sure the Lord will help us with the costs and help us with what we are doing.

“I want to say now that Christmas has slipped away, let us hope that the New Year would be prosperous. Always remember God in whatever you do and keep his commandments.”

According to Marcia Lees, who visited the compound and was captivated by the lights, the Craig family has done a wonderful job in giving that Christmas spirit feel to Samoa.

She told the Samoa Observer that the whole idea is fascinating, creative and it really gives families who are less fortunate pure joy.

“The lights itself just gives you a great feeling,” Marcia said.

“It’s a great way for families to get together, feel the spirit of Christmas and just enjoy each other’s company. This is such a fascinating idea.

“This whole display is also very creative and everyone loves it so much. We are very lucky to see these lights because not many of us have seen anything like it.

“All in all, this is a great thing for Samoa.”

Marcia says Christmas is all about family. She extended a word of thanks to the Craig family for such a wonderful initiative.

“Christmas spirit is all about family coming together,” she said.

“Coming to places like this really enforces that as families can enjoy and share the joy of Christmas with one another.

“That’s all that’s important. Bonding with family members is what it’s all about. Thank you Craig family for this display of lights.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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