Celebrations marked Kisumu’s first street party organised by the county government to mark Christmas celebrations.
There was fanfare as locals and visitors enjoyed food and drinks from yesterday morning, even before the party’s official opening in the evening.
By morning yesterday, residents eager to put behind 2021 woes had started trooping to the two streets closed for the party. By noon, some had started eating and drinking in some of the hotels that set up along the streets.
The event is the first of its kind to be held in the lakeside city, with activities lined up by the devolved unit in collaboration with the private sector.
Although on face value, the plan depicts the possibility of a successful event, all eyes are on the devolved unit on whether the event will be a success after an almost similar event in 2018, where the county organised a fish fiesta at Hippo Point flopped.
Yesterday, the two streets sealed off by the devolved unit for the street bash were full of activity as some of the businesses engaged by the devolved unit to provide various services moved to set up their stations.
A spot check by The Standard established that some of the hoteliers had erected stations along the streets. A band was also playing in one of the streets while various artists entertained guests.
The event not only brought life to the city but cheered people up. Hundreds of people attended the party on Oginga Odinga street and the new look Jomo Kenyatta Avenue, with a total four kilometres closed for the celebrations.
Mark Owino, a hotelier, said the event provided an opportunity to sell and boost income.
“The idea is noble and one of a kind,” he said.
ODM leader Raila Odinga was by last evening expected to grace the opening of the celebrations and light the Christmas tree followed by fireworks.
City manager Abala Wanga said everything was in place ahead of the event and expressed optimism that the celebrations would be a success.
“We have invited the best cooks and restaurants to provide food. We are also encouraging traders operating on the affected streets to take advantage of the opportunity to sell their wares for 24 hours,” said Wanga.
Residents paid for the food from the restaurants and drinks, including beer, before the party began.
Despite the glamour, some motorists suffered in traffic jams in the alternative routes provided. A number of motorists said closing the two major streets was uncalled for, as it inconvenienced them.
Robert Owino, a driver, said the party could have been held at a different venue. He claimed that residents had nothing to celebrate. “It is unfortunate that we are closing roads because of a street party that could have been held somewhere else. We cannot even access offices along the streets,” said Owino.
Even as some of the residents prepared for the street party, others were busy shopping. Long queues were witnessed in supermarkets, as Kenyans dashed to prepare for the Christmas celebrations.
There was a frenzy at the Kisumu main bus park, as residents keen to reunite with families struggled to board limited vehicles available.
And as anticipated, the matatu sector hiked fares, with the trip of almost all destinations doubled. Those travelling to Migori, for instance, had to part with Sh1,200, up from the usual Sh600.