Festive lights trial run a glittering success

Mayor Patricia de Lille with the winners of the Festival Lights Challenge, Devon Saunders, left, and Justin Vega.

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 the Adderley Street lights.

The local entertainers at 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, the northern suburbs duo, of 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. They will also receive a R10 000 cash prize.

The festive lights have been a tradition in Cape Town CBD for 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
R1 million 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 was 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 remembered coming into town as a child with his family to look at the 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 it’s 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…”

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.

Jawaahier said the switching on of the lights was synonymous with Cape Town’s heritage, much like the klopse. “Jy sien net mense – there’s people everywhere. You get your goema hare (candyfloss) you eat your corn in a cup and you have your boerewors roll and watch the amazing entertainment.

“For us, it’s an honour to be invited to be on the stage where people from all walks of life of Cape Town come together to celebrate. It’s a big deal ‘Ooh die ligte is an!’ (The lights are on). Everyone waits and makes the countdown till eight o’clock till the lights actually come on and you get in your car with your pyjamas and your gown and you drive as a family down Adderley Street afterwards when you can actually appreciate the lights. This is a very special time for us.”

And it is an even more special time for Mr Saunders and Mr Vega, as this will be the 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.

“We used our social media platforms to boost the whole thing. But we feel ecstatic to be part of this amazing event,” said Mr Saunders.

Mr Vega, from Goodwood, who has been producing music for the past 11 years, said HiiiJackD had only been together for six months, but already had three songs .

Mr Saunders said that as a child, his mom and sisters had looked forward to the lights every year.

“That thing about Cape Town, you get in a taxi early and you get here and spend the day.

“Now we get in our cars and we drive up and it’s all done. We don’t really get the chance to enjoy it like when we were children.”

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 City’s festive lights by Ms De Lille.