Festive lights trial run a glittering success

Mayor Patricia de Lille at the test run of the festive lights switch on.

As Mayor Patricia de Lille did a test run for the festive lights switch-on event on Thursday November 24, some of the artists who will perform at the event on Sunday December 4 watched and relived their memories of years in Adderley Street during the annual year-end celebrations.

The local entertainers on the scene of the test run, which took place at the MyCiTi Adderley Street station, included DJ Ready D, Katlego Maboe, Soli Philander, the Petersen Family as well as HiiiJackD – the winner of the Festive Lights Challenge on indi.com

HiiiJackD, a duo from the northern suburbs, comprising Devon Saunders and Justin Vega, whose song Mother City won 115 329 buzz points on indi.com, will appear on stage at the switch-on of the festive lights on Sunday, and will receive a
R10 000 cash prize.

The festive lights have been a tradition in Cape Town CBD for the past 40 years, with the City hosting an official switch-on event for the past 11 years. This is usually held in the first week of December, with the
R1million project changing themes each year, but the nativity lights staying the same. The switching on of the lights in Adderley Street marks the beginning of the festive season for many in Cape Town. The theme of this year’s event is the promotion of an inclusive city – all roads lead to Cape Town.

DJ Ready D, who will be playing at the event, said he is always excited to play at the festive lights switch-on.

“It feels like the first time every time. One year there was about 90 000 people, so this is always the biggest crowd I play for.”

He said he enjoyed the lights so much as a child that when it was festive time, he and his family went around Cape Town looking at festive lights. “When you come with your parents to town you have to drive up Adderley Street to look at the lights. Now we go all over, to Mitchell’s Plain and to Southfield and Somerset West and Grassy Park to look for lights. I’m still excited after all this time.”

Soli Philander, who will be one of the MCs at the event, said the switching on of the lights gave him a sense of promise and hope, and was a great opportunity for Capetonians to come together.”

“I grew up in Elsies River, so its not like every house had a car. Someone organises a car and as many people as possible, pile in or you get on the bakkie and all the kids are on the back on a blanket and you drive for about 20 to 25 minutes into town. Then the excitement begins…”

The late musician, Taliep Petersen’s children have also been invited to perform at the event. A’eesha, Jawaahier, Fatiema and Ashur have all inherited their father’s love for local entertainment and festivities.

And it is an even more special time for Mr Saunders and Mr Vega , as this will be their first big event they’ll be performing at as HiiiJackD, having only formed the outfit this year.

Mr Saunders, who is originally from Athlone but now lives in Monte Vista, said that they were ecstatic to hear that they won the Festive Lights Challenge and would be performing alongside well-known local artists.

“We didn’t think it would really happen. We just thought we would give it a chance, and we put something together in two weeks. We never had this song, called Mother City, in the bag.

“We had the beat and then we put the lyrics in ourselves and we got friends and family to come out and support us.”

People then had to go to the video on indi.com and like and share the video.

The test run went smoothly, with Ms De Lille switching on one strip of the lights above the MyCiTi station in Adderley Street.

This year’s festive lights switch-on event starts at 4pm on Sunday December 4, and will include a hi-tech stage with MCs Soli Philander and Shaleen Surtie Richards at the Grand Parade and the switching on of the lights by Ms De Lille.