BIANCA CA­PA­ZO­RIO

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

FOR FOUR decades Cape Town’s fes­tive lights have bathed Ad­der­ley Street in a colour­ful glow as the end-of-year cel­e­bra­tions ap­proach. And this year is be­lieved to be the 44th con­sec­u­tive year that the lights will be switched on, when the of­fi­cial light­ing up takes place to­mor­row.

Charles Kadalie, man­ager of pub­lic light­ing in the city from 1999 to 2009, said the lights had been lit from the 1960s – with the city’s elec­tric­ity depart­ment de­sign­ing, build­ing and in­stalling them. An of­fi­cial would switch them on, but “there was no fan­fare”, he re­called.

In 1999, when Kadalie started, he saw the op­por­tu­nity to turn the switch­ing-on into an event – and over the years it has grown in pop­u­lar­ity, at­tract­ing thou­sands of vis­i­tors an­nu­ally. In 2008, more than 100 000 peo­ple turned out to share in the cel­e­bra­tion. Then, dur­ing No­main­dia Mfeketo’s term as mayor, the pro­gramme was ex­panded, with fes­tive il­lu­mi­na­tions go­ing up in town­ships around the city.

Over the years these lights have fea­tured every­thing from an­i­mals and flow­ers to Christ­mas and even soc­cer scenes.

Ac­cord­ing to Kadalie, in 2000, fol­low­ing the Trea­sure oil spill and the fame of three pen­guins called Percy, Pamela and Peter, the lights fea­tured marine scenes to pay trib­ute to the events of that year.

To­mor­row, Mayor Patricia de Lille will flick the switch that turns on this year’s dis­play, which fea­tures themes in­clud­ing Cape Town – Africa’s Great­est City, The Mu­si­cal City and A Bird’s Life. The plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion of the dis­play has taken or­gan­is­ers and de­sign­ers six months to com­plete.

The city is ex­pect­ing around 80 000 vis­i­tors to­mor­row, with events kick­ing off at 3.30pm. Ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude a car­ni­val pa­rade with floats and live mu­si­cal per­for­mances by South African artists.

“A Cape Town tra­di­tion for over 40 years, the switch-on of the fes­tive lights be­longs to Capeto­ni­ans and vis­i­tors. We have our peo­ple, our cul­tures, our her­itage, our di­ver­sity. But we also have the priv­i­lege of one of the most breath­tak­ing land­scapes on earth,” De Lille said ahead of the event.

In re­cent years, said city coun­cil­lor Grant Pas­coe, the lights had also gone greener. “In­stead of us­ing 15 amp bulbs, we now use seven amp bulbs,” he said.

bianca.ca­pa­zo­rio@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: IAN LANDS­BERG

TEST RUN: Bon­gani Mka­tini, of the city’s pub­lic light­ing depart­ment, puts the fin­ish­ing touches to the lights ahead of the switch-on to­mor­row.

PIC­TURE: IAN LANDS­BERG

PRIDE OF CAPE TOWN: Cape Town Sta­dium takes pride of place in this year’s light­ing dis­play, as shown dur­ing the test run last week.

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