A crowd of thousands of people counted down from 10 to zero and cheered as the Executive Mayor of George, Melvin Naik, switched the Festive Lights on at Unity Park on Saturday night.
Mayor Naik greeted Georgians and visitors and thanked them for withstanding the rain to see the George Lights switched on. Cllr Iona Kritzinger, Chairperson of the Lights Festival Organising Committee, thanked the citizens of George and visitors who all were on their best behaviour and supported the festival despite the rain pouring down through the evening. Kritzinger said there were no major incidents or injuries reported.
The organising committee made special mention of the main act, Loukman Adams, who kept the crowd entertained despite the pouring rain. Local artist, Michael Lindt, was a hit as usual, as well as Aida Lucas and Queen G from George and Shaza from Sedgefield and the Uniondale rieldansers.
Mayor Naik, in his annual speech, congratulated every learner and student who passed and urged those that did not make it to try again. He said with every challenge there is an opportunity.
“George Municipality has just received another unqualified audit, from the Auditor General and this is indicative that we are still fulfilling our constitutional mandate,” he said. He thanked ratepayers for their support and George Municipality officials for their hard work. Naik congratulated the George Civils team for the successful completion of the Garden Route dam wall. He thanked Cllr Iona Kritzinger and Carol Jasper who spearheaded the Lights Festival as well as the George Lights organising committee and thanked all of the artists, officials, and security who did an excellent job.
Naik asked citizens and visitors to use water sparingly throughout the season and every day. He said it is predicted to be one of the driest summers. He also pleaded with drivers not to drink and drive and be responsible.
Naik in collaboration with the Lions Club also announced the Citizen of the Year for 2019, Colleen Smith. Smith and her team at Oudtshoorn Dogs in Need (Odin) were the September George Good Citizen of the month. She started the institution after looking for a puppy for her son and saw the need for the welfare of animals in the area. It all started in Oudtshoorn, spread to farms and adjacent towns and now the adoption centre for our abused and neglected rescues is located in Blanco, George. Odin focuses on education, being proactive instead of reactive.