A better festive lights switch-on this year

The theme for next years Cape Town Carnival on Saturday March 17 is Mother City, Mother Nature. The carnival, which takes place on the Green Point Fan Walk, will showcase the beauty and diversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Carnival-goers can expect to be wowed by massive floats, ranging from a depiction of Mother Nature with the seed of life in her hands and the indigenous flowers of the region to the tree of life. The critical state of Cape Towns municipal water supply will also be highlighted during the carnival. This years Cape Town Carnival was attended by more than 45 000 spectators. More than 40 community groups, floats, giant puppets and extravagant costumes will be seen parading along the 1.2km route.

Due to security concerns, the switching-on of the festive lights event, taking place in the CBD on Sunday December 3, will be run a bit differently this year.

The City of Cape Town, which runs the annual event, said this year they want to focus on bringing whole families back to the festive celebration.

The event has been taking place in the Cape Town CBD for the past 40 years and is a tradition for Capetonians who come to see the themed festive lights strung over Adderley Street switched on by the mayor.

Before the official switch on, entertainment is provided, mainly on the Grand Parade, for those who come to have a good time.

However, JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services, said over the years, there had been a change in those attending, from families to more young people, many of whom were under-aged.

“They attend the event without accompanying guardians and a large number do not go home after the event. They tend to loiter in the CBD and engage in anti-social behaviour. Alcohol abuse among the youth and private alcohol sales have been on the increase over the years, which has been linked to crime within the event.”

He said this year, there will be an access control system in place. “The area will be fenced and entry will be through secured access points with chutes and a search system. No glass or prohibited items such as weapons will be allowed.”

He said the Kid Smart Project is on board this year, which will provide a more sophisticated kids monitoring system to help reunite lost children with their families. “These are just a few of the enhancements, among a host of others, that will ensure a safer environment for families.”

Mayor Patricia de Lille last week held a test run for the event in the presence of some of the artists who will be performing, including DJ Ready D, Heavenly Quartez, Koos Kombuis and MCs Joe Barber and Boeta Gamat.

Other stars include Vicky Sampson; Craig Lucas, winner of The Voice South Africa; Paxton Fielies, South African Idols 2017 winner; Jimmy Nevis, Freshlyground and The Rockets, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.

Captain Ezra October, spokesperson for Cape Town Central police station, also indicated that the event will end earlier this year. They expect most visitors to leave the CBD by 10pm.

“It’s not what happens at the event, but who stays behind after the event. So the City has put measures in place to secure the event such as fencing the footprint and searching people entering the event. No alcohol will be permitted.”

He said authorities will come down hard on taxis who park and party after the event. “We are happy that they have increased the security for the event. They have planned better this time.”

He said the event often attracts thousands of people, and police have to draw maximum resources to keep them safe. Additional security measures will be the closure of Government Avenue, next to the Company’s Gardens, as soon as it starts to get dark, as this is where some of the youth gather to do “naughty things” said Captain October.

He said Somerset Hospital, outside the V&A Waterfront, had last year reported seeing a large number of patients in the early hours of the morning after the lights switch-on event, however, no cases were logged with police.

“We urge people to report cases to Cape Town Central police, but mostly, we hope for a safer party this year.

Bianca Carls, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Health, said data compiled by Somerset Hospital indicated that more than 160 emergency centre patients were seen the day after the switching on of the lights last year, the most seen throughout 2016.

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