JAN CRONJÉ

When Christ­mas lights are switched on, so is amaze­ment, writes

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

FOR 46 years the switch-on of Cape Town’s Christ­mas lights in Ad­der­ley Street, one of the old­est in the city, has sig­nalled the “of­fi­cial” start of the fes­tive sea­son. Peo­ple have long come from far and wide to treat their fam­i­lies to the spec­ta­cle, which has left chil­dren wide-eyed in won­der, their par­ents smil­ing on hap­pily, since the mid-1960s.

And while the switch was orig­i­nally flipped with lit­tle or no fan­fare, the cer­e­mo­nial switch-on by the city’s mayor has to­day be­come a ma­jor event, with tens of thou­sands of Capeto­ni­ans throng­ing Ad­der­ley Street, the Grand Pa­rade and sur­rounds in a car­ni­val-like at­mos­phere.

For more than a decade now the event has been ac­com­pa­nied by an open-air party, which has helped build the an­tic­i­pa­tion; this year the per­form­ers in­cluded the likes of jazz leg­end Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Ne­vis, the Rock­ets and Mi Casa.

There’s al­ways a theme too, gen­er­ally tied to the news events of the day – and, ap­pro­pri­ately, this year it’s World De­sign Cap­i­tal 2014.

Last year’s theme was “Our City, Our Peo­ple”, while the Soc­cer World Cup was the cen­tre­piece of 2009 in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the next year’s soc­cer spec­ta­cle.

Over the years there’s been ev­ery­thing from ma­rine scenes, cy­clists and scenes from Cape Town life, to flow­ers and even Aids rib­bons.

Nat­u­rally, Christ­mas lights just wouldn’t be Christ­mas lights with­out a healthy dose of Fa­ther Christ­mases, rein­deer and gifts.

R2D2: An alien ro­bot greets ex­cited earth­lings at a city depart­ment store, 1984.

GREEN­MAR­KET SQUARE: 1989

AD­DER­LEY STREET: 1978

CAVENDISH SQUARE: 1981

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