Sun, 21 Dec 2003

Recreation centers gear up for New Year celebrations

T. Sima Gunawan, Contributor, Jakarta

The long-awaited moment is coming in just 10 days. The New Year is drawing near and people are getting ready to celebrate it with hopes for a better future, wishing for success and prosperity.

Trumpets will be blown and colorful confetti spread in the air to add to the joyful atmosphere that will envelop the city. People will pack hotels, cafes and other entertainment spots that offer a variety of entertainment to welcome the New Year.

Those on a limited budget who do not want to stay at home watching television can still enjoy themselves, with wonderful shows in a cheerful atmosphere at several recreation centers in the city, including Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, East Jakarta, and Ancol Fantasyland, North Jakarta.

Among the events at Taman Mini include the screening of award- winning film Badai Pasti Berlalu (The Storm Will Pass) featuring one of the country's most respected artistes, Christine Hakim, and a wayang kulit (shadow puppet) show, presented by an Australian puppeteer.

"We shall light up a total of 2,004 torches at midnight to mark the coming of the New Year," Purnawijaya, spokesman of Taman Mini, said.

The New Year's Eve celebration at Taman Mini will start at 7 p.m. with music concerts in three different genres at three different locations: dangdut, Javanese pop and Malay music, presenting Rhoma Irama, Didi Kempot and Iyet Bustami, respectively.

A Jaipong mania show is especially offered for those who love jaipong, the Sundanese traditional dance.

An open theater will present three films simultaneously: Balada Rhoma Irama, (the Ballad of Rhoma Irama), Kembang Kertas (Flower Paper) and Badai Pasti Berlalu, which were produced during the heyday of the national film industry in the 1970s through to the mid-1980s.

A special film with a running time of about 40 minutes will be presented at the Keong Emas Imax Theater at 10 p.m. and at 11 p.m.

"The film will feature special effects from four box office movies: Independence Day, Kazam, King Kong and Star Wars. You can watch it in Keong Imas, which has the biggest screen in the world and three-dimensional technology," Purnawijaya said.

After the 2,004 torches are lit up, trumpets will be blown and fireworks launched into the sky. "However, for the fireworks, we are still awaiting a permit from the city police," Purnawijaya said.

After midnight, three different wayang shows will be presented in three different places. The West Java pavilion will present a wayang golek (wooden puppet) show with puppeteer Cecep Supriyadi, while Ki Mujoko, a contemporary puppeteer, will perform at the East Java pavilion. Puppeteer George Davidson from Australia will perform the leather puppet shadow show at Museum Pusaka.

"Even though he is Australian, he will perform in Javanese to present a story titled Anoman Duta," Purnawijaya said.

The wayang shows are expected to last until the morning. "For only Rp 10,000 you can enjoy all of these shows, except for the film at Keong Emas," said Purnawijaya, adding that an extra Rp 25,000 would be required to watch the three-dimensional movie.

Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are expected to flock Taman Mini on New Year's Eve. This will be the time when the number of visitors reaches a climax. Usually it only attracts 20,000 people per day on weekdays and 40,000 people at the weekend.

Besides Taman Mini, another favorite place to celebrate New Year's Eve is Taman Impian Ancol dreamland.

Suparto, from Ancol marketing department, said that there would be a fireworks show, a music concert and traditional performances like wayang and lenong (traditional drama from Betawi).

The music concert, from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., will be staged in cooperation with SCTV TV station and will be broadcast live. Among those taking part in the show are top dangdut singers like Inul Daratista (who recently sparked controversy over her erotic dance style), Alam and Christina, as well as two of the country's most famous pop groups Slank and Padi, according to Uki Hastama, a public relations officer at SCTV.

Ancol, which will have an entrance fee of Rp 7,500 per person, expects a huge crowd -- at least 150,000 people -- on New Year's Eve.

"Hopefully, it will not rain," Suparto said.

He revealed that a rain tamer would be hired, but there was no guarantee that the sky would be entirely clear the whole time.

A rain tamer is believed to have the power to move the clouds to other places in order to delay rain or make it come earlier.

Last year, he said, it rained at 3:30 a.m. at Ancol.

Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso is also expected to participate in the New Year's Eve celebrations at Taman Mini and Ancol.

Last year, the city administration held several traditional performances along Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Sudirman, while a giant stage was erected in front of Grand Hyatt hotel, featuring prayers recited by various religious groups near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, Central Jakarta.

The public relations office at City Hall, however, could not give any information about the program for this year, saying "it is still being discussed."

Seaworld, which is also located in Ancol, does not have any special show planned for New Year's Eve. On Dec. 31, it will even close earlier, at 3 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m., according to its marketing executive Agung Nugroho.

"But on Dec. 25, Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, there will be a Santa Claus parade in the main aquarium. Seven divers dressed up in Santa Claus outfits will decorate a Christmas tree and feed the fish," he said, adding that the show starts at 11 a.m. Entrance tickets to Seaworld are Rp 25,000 per person.