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National Park Celebrates New Visitor Center

April 25, 2013

On April 24, the National Park of American Samoa celebrated the grand opening of its new visitor center. The new visitor center replaces the previous one that was destroyed by the 2009 tsunami and culminates the national park’s recovery efforts. In attendance were the American Samoa Governor Lolo Moliga and First Lady Cynthia Moliga, local government directors and representatives, and park partners who were instrumental in the development of the visitor center exhibits.

The exhibits were designed and written in Samoan and English for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors from around the world. They showcase the signficance of the islands unique tropical rainforests, coral reefs, fruit bats, and the Samoan culture. Visitors will enjoy the interactive exhibits that integrate models of islands, sea life, forest birds, fruit bats, and cultural handicrafts and tools.

Superintendent Jim Bacon said during the celebration that “We hope that the visitor center exhibits accurately reflect American Samoa’s natural and cultural heritage in a way that fills you with a sense of pride. As such this visitor center is much more than a facility, it is a gateway into the heart of Samoan life as it existed long ago, as it still exists today, and as it will exist long into the future – at peace and harmony with the land and waters surrounding us.”

The visitor center is integral to peoples’ understanding and enjoyment of the cultural and natural wonders the park seeks to protect.

Working collaboratively with the Hawai’i Pacific Parks Association, a non-profit organization based in Hawai, the visitor center includes a sales area with products that include items such as post cards, books, patches, pins, hats, and water bottles. All sales proceeds benefit the national park’s interpretation and education program.
Everyone is invited to view and experience the national park’s new visitor center and exhibits in Pago Pago, across from the Pago Way Service Station. The visitor center is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, except closed on federal holidays.

The exhibits were made possible through special National Park Service funds provided in the wake of the devastating 2009 tsunami.

Superintendent Jim Bacon, Chief of Interpretation and Education Michael Larson, First Lady Cynthia Moliga, and Governor Lolo Moliga cut the ribbon at the visitor center entrance.

Superintendent Jim Bacon, Chief of Interpretation and Education Michael Larson, First Lady Cynthia Moliga, and Governor Lolo Moliga cut the ribbon at the visitor center entrance.

Dedication Cake

Dedication Cake

Students from Afonotele Elementary School, a school within the national park, danced and sang during the celebration.

Students from Afonotele Elementary School, a school within the national park, danced and sang during the celebration.

Reverend Fa'atauva'a Alaelua provided prayers and the cutting of the visitor center cake.

Reverend Fa’atauva’a Alaelua provided prayers and the cutting of the visitor center cake.

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