Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Father Christmas Ditches 'Rudolph'

THIS year Father Christmas has decided to ditch 'Rudolph' the rednosed reindeer choosing to bring along some spine-chilling reptiles, as he tours Arusha City during the holidays.

But the municipal officials seem not to be so happy with this new development and have been at loggerhead with organizers of the proposed 'Christmas Fete' which will feature the 'snake-charming' Santa Claus to an extent of banning the show altogether.

"The problem is that the operators of the Via-Via gardens, where the event is to be held on Christmas Day did not apply for permit from the City's Cultural Office," explains Mr Godfrey Mollel, the Municipal Sports and Culture Officer.

The Council was also concerned that the concert which targets young audience, especially children would be taking place at a venue which also sell alcohol and other intoxicating spirits, contrary to the 'Christmas theme!' Still, the council later permitted the show to go on after the right procedures were followed.

But, in this 'digital' era things seem to have changed; 'Santa Claus' at least the one who will be visiting and dishing out gifts in Arusha this year, has just become more interesting, albeit tougher, mean and macho, to an extent of playing with serpents, instead of his usual trusted 9th reindeer.

"We are organizing a special Christmas Concert to be held at the Via-Via gardens on the 25th of December and it will involve, among other activities, traditional dances, acrobatic shows, dramatic acting and of course snake charmers," reveals the event coordinator Mr Freddy Ng'ang'a.

The Arusha-based artist and traditional dances trainer explained further that during the afternoon show, Father Christmas will also be dishing out gifts to children as large snakes lurk in the background while dancers perform. Arusha Santa 2012 will not be riding on an open sledge either; the red suit clad gift-slinger is expected to mount a real car as he goes around Arusha to 'invite' residents to attend the Via-via gardens show.

"Our 'Santa Claus' will be going round the town in an open vehicle on the 23rd and 24th of December to promote the grand show which will be taking place at Makumbusho (Via-Via) on the 25th of December (Christmas Day) and even during the City tour, Father Christmas will be unwrapping post-holiday gifts to Arusha residents.

"For years, the end of year holidays have remained passive with nothing happening in town and people, especially children, with nowhere to go for entertainment but we want to change that this year," said the organizer.

The Christmas Eve pantomime that will be going around the city today, with Santa Claus aboard, will also be featuring a couple of scary reptiles for maximum effect. More snakes will be coming out of the box on the actual Christmas Day.

This year's Christmas therefore won't be the same. What is expected to be the same, however, is the Acrobatic group which will be dancing with snakes during the December 25, event, because the same outfit is expected to perform at Kibo Palace on the 31st of December as the hotel hosts a special 'New Year Eve' concert at its premises.

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