Sun, 23 Jun 2002

City celebrates anniversary in style

Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Thousands of Jakartans celebrated their city's 475th anniversary cheerfully over the weekend, forgetting, just for a day, the many serious problems facing the city.

Crowds of people began entering Ancol Dreamland Park in North Jakarta in the early morning as it was declared free entry to all.

The park management provided a stage on the eastern beach and several local singers entertained visitors with popular and traditional dangdut music.

Traditional music, such as Betawi (native Jakartan) Gambang Kromong and Javanese Campursari, were also performed on the stage.

Governor Sutiyoso joined the party by lighting fireworks near the stage at midnight to mark the city's anniversary celebrations in the park.

Earlier in the day, the governor also delivered a speech at the plenary session of the City Council on Jl. Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta.

He called on Jakartans to live modestly and avoid consumerism because it would create social jealousy during the continuing economic crisis.

"We should also cooperate in preserving our environment. The recent floods should remind us of its importance," said Sutiyoso, who together with city councillors and other city officials wore traditional Betawi black clothes and pici (rimless caps) during the ceremony.

He promised he would pursue efforts to eliminate corruption and collusion in the city.

In the evening a reception party was held at the City Hall where Sutiyoso received anniversary greetings from various guests, including local leaders and foreign diplomats.

The reception, which was aired live by state television station TVRI, featured modern and traditional music and songs, such as Gambang Kromong Betawi music.

The anniversary celebrations were also held at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, where Betawi traditional music and dance were performed.

Another big stage was set up at the Jakarta Fairground in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta to be used by local artists to entertain visitors at the annual exhibition.

On Sunday, the anniversary celebrations will begin with the annual carnival along the city's main thoroughfares of Jl. Jend. Sudirman and Jl. M.H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta.

At least 3,000 participants and 750 floats and vehicles, including sedans belonging to the country's first president and vice president, Soekarno and Mohamad Hatta, will parade in the carnival.

Traditional Betawi, Liong Chinese and dances from Brazil, Mexico and South Africa will be performed at the parade.

On Sunday afternoon, Sutiyoso will attend a street party near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, Central Jakarta, where he will also inaugurate the reopening of the traffic circle's water fountain.