If there’s a World Cup naysayer left in South Africa it is doubtful they would dare raise their hand after the overwhelming success of Friday’s Final Draw party in Cape Town.
The city stated that it expected 15 000 revellers to attend the festivities in Long Street where the Final Draw was screened. The official tally by midnight was over 55 000.
So keen was Cape Town to party that by 6.30 police had to turn thousands away from the entrance at the Wale Street intersection, and erected a second inner barrier as a stampede was looming.
The full length of the seven blocks of Long Street closed to traffic were choked with people wearing yellow football hats, blowing vuvuzelas, wearing makarapas, waving flags and, of course, drinking beer – by the barrel.
From midday a steady stream of revellers made their way to the bar-lined street graced with old-world Victorian architecture. The stream turned into a river as the city knocked off work at 4.30.
Following the screening of the actual draw – a rather drawn out although technically smooth affair during which the crowds kept relatively quiet except for the occasional roar when Bafana Bafana was mentioned – the party started in earnest, although some had already enjoyed themselves too much and were flaking in the gutters. A constantly visible security force ensured things were kept in hand, however.
Not even a technical glitch after crowd pleasers Freshly Ground graced the stage, which took technicians over 45 minutes to fix, could dim the festive atmosphere.
The crowd picked up the tempo as soon as PJ Powers belatedly came on stage, followed by rockers Cassette, guitar maestro Jimmy Dludlu, TKZee, K’Naan and others.
Enormous dancing Bafana Bafana puppets, street theatre practitioners, seemingly countless Miss World contestants parading just outside the crowd barrier near the four-storey stage, and, of course, the beer – kept the crowd in good cheer.
Fans also made their own parties in the melee, either dancing to tunes emitted from one of the many bars, or singing football songs in large groups, as the creaking Victorian balconies groaned with the clutch of onlookers hanging over them.
With no significant incidents reported by midnight on Friday, the city’s ability to deal with a crowd three times larger than expected, plus keep 3000 VIPs safe at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, proved that South Africa is indeed ready for 2010.
Bring it on. – West Cape News