Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gaya Christmas celebration has something for all

Kota Kinabalu: This year's Gaya Christmas celebration has been thoughtfully prepared to give visitors to the four-day event the chance to share in the unity among the various communities.

Organising Chairman Neil Mah of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kota Kinabalu said a host of activities is being put up during the entire four-night carnival and "there will be something for everyone to take part and enjoy."

The carnival this Monday will open at 6.30pm.

All are welcome for the official opening ceremony at Lintasan Deasoka commencing at 7.30pm, which will end at about 10.30pm with a fireworks display.

Events on the other three nights also begin at 6.30pm.

Apart from various stage performances - solo and group singing, bands, choirs, dances and nativity skits, hawkers' stalls will be set up through the entire Block A to Block C of Gaya Street.

It's a mixture of stalls set up by members of the various Christian denominations as well as the regular street hawkers.

They will be selling all types of food and drinks, Christmas cakes and cookies, decorations, gifts, household items and a host of other necessities.

The Gaya Christmas celebration started in 2005 when then SIB Pastor Jerry Dusing, now President of the SIB Church, was asked to organise that year's "Christmas by Candlelight" and event that used to be held at Merdeka Padang.

"I felt that a more meaningful event, one that would send out the true message of what Christmas is all about, would be more meaningful than just singing Christmas carols," said Jerry.

"The objective was to show the message of the birth of Christ.

It was to be a celebration of peace and goodwill and to build a bridge between the Christians and the other communities."

Jerry and his Pastor friends had a tough time convincing the Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) as to why a better Christmas event, without over-commercialising it, was necessary. The green light was given.

A plan was put in place but there was a need to convince the authorities, i n particular, the Mayor and Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK).

"(The then) Mayor, Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim, must be given credit for giving the green light, even agreeing to allow City Hall to co-organise the carnival," added Jerry.

"It gave us the chance to show others that the Churches can work together, and, that Gaya Street Carnival was not a venue to preach, but more to share with the other communities."

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