Spectators grumble about gazebo grouches

The roads resembled campsites during the minstrel parade after some spectators set up gazebos and tents blocking the view for others.

The heat was on when the newly branded Cape Town Street Parade took to the streets on Tuesday January 2.

Thousands flocked to the heart of the city to catch a glimpse of Cape Town’s colourful minstrel troupes.

With temperatures soaring, many booked their spots along the route with gazebos, much to the unhappiness of onlookers who found their views blocked.

Junaid Henry came from Strandfontein with his family to catch some minstrel action but said the gazebos had made it hard to see anything.

“We walked all along the route and it seemed like people were camping out on the spots. Some people were there two days before the time already and we were told by so many that they came early to book their spot, but it’s highly unfair on many of the people without a ‘booked spot’ to see what was happening,” he said.

When Mr Henry escorted his daughter to the fence at one stage, encroaching on a “booked spot”, he was reminded by the people sitting under the gazebo that his daughter was on their turf.

“This is a four-year-old girl who only wanted to see the coons. This woman looked at us disgusted, almost as if we were on her private property. I told them I only wanted her to get a better view, and the woman responded by telling me we should have come earlier then.

“It’s ridiculous. These are public spaces being owned by members of the public, as if they had paid for their spot a year in advance.”

Sharlene Adendorf, from Rondebosch East, decided never to waste her time at the parade again.

“We arrived at 8am, parked on the outskirts of town and walked down to the parade. When we arrived, all the spots were already taken. Some people even brought camp tents and had the whole set-up inside: beds, blankets, tables, chairs – the works. We walked all along the route, and the only opening we found, was just before a robot, where the minstrels stopped to take a break.”

When Ms Adendorf decided to take matters into her own hands, she worked her way through the crowd towards the fence but was stopped by a man who, she claims, “acted like a security guard protecting his fort”.

“This man had three gazebos set up and even closed the back of the gazebo so that people would not be able to enter. It’s so inconsiderate, and I cannot understand why the City of Cape Town would allow it.”

Eventually she decided to call it a day, having only spotted one team along the route.

The City, however, says it did not get any official complaints about the gazebos. Richard Bosman, the executive director of safety and security for events, said the gazebos had been allowed because of the
blistering heat on the day of the parade.

With the parade precinct being nearly 2.5km long, covering just over 80000 square meters and temperatures in the mid-thirties, the City had to allow for shade to prevent spectators passing out from the heat.

The gazebos would not have posed a safety hazard as long as they had been pitched and secured properly, he said, but added that the City would look at “various options” for the future.

“There should also be a perfect balance between standing and seating areas and platforms for VIPs or sponsors,” he said.

It was normally up to the event organiser, in this case the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association (KKKA), to decide on whether people could erect gazebos, Mr Bosman said.

KKKA director Muneeb Gambeno said they would not allow the gazebos be erected in an “unregulated manner” in future as they prevented onlooker participation.

“We’ll make firm statements on the matter once we have competed the event debrief with the City,” he said.