During the Christmas season, three blocks of a dusty little Karoo suburb suddenly turn into Yuletide London’s Bond Street, complete with neon baubles, Santas and the star that brought the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem.
When the sun goes down and the lights of Acacia Street in Kroonvale, Graaff-Reinet, go on, there’s a collective gasp from all the township kids.
Residents in Santa Claus gear trawl Acacia Street, collecting money for local charities from the motorists who come to look at the lights. Every night something special happens – a marching brass band, a gospel choir, a spiritual dance group, a locally famous DJ, or the handing out of sweets to hundreds of children.
Graaff-Reinet businesses and the local municipality come to the party with sponsorship and safe electricity for the incredible light show along Acacia Street, a tight-knit community that is the centre of the Universe for someone like Jennifer Christians.
“You know, we are like a real family in this street. We care for one another. We love each other. We can call on anyone, and we know we’ll be supported.
“So that’s why I’m here. All the standing and sore feet and staying awake till midnight every night is worth it when the cheque is handed over. Every year, the Bash has grown, and every year we get more compliments.”
The hand-over of ‘the cheque’ happens in the early hours of the New Year, to the benefit of the Graaff-Reinet and District Cancer Association. And it is a generous cheque – every year, this small street raises between R20 000 and R35 000.
You will feel a true spirit of Christmas right there, in the middle of Acacia Street, surrounded by a thousand neon shapes – and the spirit of a great Karoo heart.
- The lights go on every night from 8pm to midnight from 16 December to 31 December. For more information on the Acacia Street lights, call or WhatsApp the project chairman Allan Hoffman on 063 563 4087.
- To find out more about Graaff-Reinet, visit http://www.graaffreinet.co.za.