Bay abuzz on Heritage Day

Lynn Williams

NELSON Mandela Bay was abuzz with excitement and activity at the weekend as thousands of people flocked to attend the many festivals and events on offer.

With concerts, cultural events and Heritage Day celebrations to suit every palate, residents and visitors were spoilt for choice.

The events included the inaugural Gay Pride “Born This Way” parade, the New Brighton Wine Festival, the Northern Arts Festival and the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) heritage events like the Urban Run, a Lifestyle Conference and the official launch of Route 67.

Gay Pride spokesman Robin Payne said more than 2000 people attended.

He said organisers were surprised the event was such a huge success because it was the first of its kind in the city. Visitors came from Grahamstown, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Knysna and Mossel Bay to attend.

About 700 people took part in the march on Saturday. It started at the corner of Stanley and Mackay streets and ended in Parliament Street.

In Parliament Street, 2000 people gathered for live musical performances.

A colourful and flamboyant Lady Gaga performance by Terry Tiger Victor had the crowds screaming for more. The New Afro Teens also took to the stage.

The Gay Pride bus – on a national tour – made a stop en route to Johannesburg’s Gay Pride event.

Ivo Leo said the spirit of the people had been very welcoming.

“Normally at such events one would expect weird looks or hear remarks, but the people were friendly and welcoming.”

 Although it was fun, Payne said it was not just a day for dressing up. “The event achieved its goal of bringing about gay awareness.

“This city has officially been added to the Gay Pride event calendar. We hope to stage an even bigger and better event next year,” he said.

Now in its fifth year, the Northern Arts Festival drew thousands of people to Varsvlei, in Sanctor.

Although official figures were not available yesterday, organiser Billy Paulson said the event had definitely shown growth in numbers. Last year, 80000 people attended.

More than 100 dancers and singers, food stalls, a huge variety of arts and crafts, karaoke, a fun run, poetry and writing workshops, storytelling and a fireworks display were just some of the things that kept festivalgoers entertained.

With the vision of uplifting the youth, RoleModels Pageants organised a Little Miss and Miss Northern Areas pageant.

Paulson said: “People came in droves to support the event. There were so many new faces.”

More than 350 runners took part in the first Urban Run through the inner city yesterday.

The 12km race started at the Donkin Reserve and took participants through various points in the inner city. Runners had to deal with obstacles like climbing over nets and carrying tyres.

MBDA planning and development manager Dorelle Sapere said there had been positive feedback from the runners.

Other events hosted by the MBDA were the Lifestyle Conference and the launch of Route 67.

Route 67 celebrates the city’s heritage through public art, spanning the 67 years former president Nelson Mandela devoted to public life. Sixty-seven art pieces are on display, telling the story of the city’s history.

Those who attended the launch walked the route from the Campanile to the Donkin Reserve. At the Donkin, the South African flag was raised.

The second annual New Brighton Wine Festival had been a huge success, Imbizo Events project manager Tenjiwe Mjuleni said.

The exhibition area at the Red Location Museum was a hive of activity as wine lovers came to sample award-winning wines.

 “[It] was more drinking than tasting, but it means that people enjoyed the wines,” she said.

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