Kota Kinabalu, as a city, turned 8 yesterday and celebrated with a massive Kota Kinabalu City Day Parade.
Hundreds of dancers participated in the annual event to celebrate Kota Kinabalu’s anniversary of its city status. On 2 February 2000, Kota Kinabalu finally achieve city status and claimed its rightful place in the history books.
Eight years later, Kota Kinabalu’s city day celebrations were bigger and better with international dancers joining the parade held in Jalan Tun Faud Stephens immediately in front of the Marina Court Condominiums. That part of Kota Kinabalu was blocked off to most traffic and pedestrians ruled the streets for the night. Thousands of people were milling about and it had an obvious carnival atmosphere.
From my vantage point on seats just right of centre stage, I had a good view of the short segments that the various dancing groups provided. But low light and relative distance to the action wasn’t exactly conducive to great photos and the pictures accompanying this post are worse than usual.
This year’s city day parade had several improvements over last year. Most notably was the absence of a central divider in the road, which effectively transformed the entire stretch of Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens in front of Marina Court Condominiums into a stage, making a parade possible, as opposed to last year’s stage-bound performances.
Secondly, traffic control was efficient. Although traffic police rigidly turned many roads into a one-way street, it was effective in emptying out the city after the event, with nearly no traffic jams. I thought that was a major feat, considering Kota Kinabalu strains under a normal day’s worth of traffic, never mind an event that attracts thousands of motorists into the city at one time. Well done to the Kota Kinabalu Traffic Department.
I enjoyed the international groups’ performances a little more last year. But there’s two main reasons for that; firstly, I got to dance with the Indian performers and secondly, but likely the decisive reason, they invited a South African Xhosa Cultural Group, who with their drum-beats and vibrant, energetic dancing, set the stage alight.
This year, the most outstanding international performers where the groups from Spain, Brazil and Kenya, who all deliver energetic and colourful (although sometimes raunchy) renditions of their cultures. New Zealand needs to a mention, although previously when we had the Rugby 10’s featured here, New Zealand, Tonga and the like gave much more stirring performances of the formidable Hakka.
Wanting to avoid the exit crush, we left the action-packed centre of the festivities quite early and watched from the safety and comfort of the balcony at Starbucks in Warisan Square. The grand finale and the closing of Kota Kinabalu’s City Day Celebrations where signaled with a humongous barrage of fire works. It was loud, bright and long display of explosions, not only celebrating Kota Kinabalu’s 8th birthday as a city, but also ushering in the start of the Chinese New Year Festivities.
A treat for local and tourists alike, it certainly did leave a buzz with and something to talk about for the proud people of Kota Kinabalu and visitors who attended the Kota Kinabalu City Day Parade 2008.
Ps. Julia was there too.