White and proud

Celebrating its 100th birthday, Tel Aviv prepares to show that when you party on the coast, you had better take the following day off to recoup.

old photo tel aviv cafe (photo credit: Archive)
old photo tel aviv cafe
(photo credit: Archive)
One of the greatest songs ever written about Tel Aviv is Alona Daniel's "On the Roofs of Tel Aviv." Released in 1990, it succeeded in capturing the gritty excitement of the pulsating metropolis. It was played incessantly on the radio during the first Gulf War when Saddam Hussein's scuds were bombarding those very roofs. Nineteen years later, Daniel will be revisiting the song Saturday night at Rabin Square, but the only accompanying booms will be from fireworks. Yes, the official Centennial for Tel Aviv-Jaffa has descended upon us. And Daniel will be but one of the featured artists performing at the weekend kickoff to the nine-month long festivities put together by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Centennial team. The free concert is - in true Tel Aviv style - going to be over the top. In addition to the main attractions, like Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, Berry Sacharoff, Shlomo Gronich, Mati Caspi, Danny Robas, Monica Sex and Dana International, the organizers have promised some 1,200 performers, including singers, dancers and everything in between, as well as a technologically sophisticated sound and light show that will rival Paul McCartney's state-of-the-art set up last year. Get there early, because not only are the roofs going to be crowded Saturday night, but so will the roads. Starting time is slated for 8:30 p.m., and the party is expected to continue until 11 p.m. Be sure to rest up well beforehand because as a prelude to the gala concert, Tel Aviv is hosting an outdoor birthday party today, Friday. The city itself is getting all dolled up for the weekend festivities. Store windows and bus stops are to receive a colorful makeover. In addition, mobiles created by 11,000 pre-schoolers are to be hung in windows around town. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art will feature an outdoor exhibit of winning mobiles in a competition held between art and design students. One of the more ambitious undertakings for the Centennial will also be launched - the Hidden City exhibit. Thousands of historical photographs acquired from private collections have been blown up to magnificent proportions, then hung over main thoroughfares and draped over 50 city buildings. The bulk of the photographs will be on display at 10 community centers throughout the city. What street party would be complete without theater and performances? Not this one. Street theater, shows, jugglers and musicians will entertain residents at 30 locations in the city throughout the day. Even if you can't make it to Tel Aviv today or tomorrow, you can still join in the celebration. All the country's radio stations will play a surprise birthday song for Tel Aviv-Jaffa at 1:05 p.m. today. The party, of course, continues long after this weekend. Later this month on the 24th, the Tel Aviv Marathon returns after a 15-year hiatus. Plenty of international runners will undoubtedly arrive for the scenic route and perfect spring running weather. On May 27th, Little Tel Aviv's White Night will revive the Tel Aviv of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, including a reenactment of the White City on Rothschild Boulevard, an all-night opening for the Carmel Market and an old-fashioned toy and game fair at Meir Park. June will see the annual Gay Pride parade on the 12th and the Blue-Mediterranean festival in Jaffa on the 16th, which honors the city from which Tel Aviv emerged, featuring films, live music, food stalls and the inauguration of new sections of the city's seaside boardwalk. Also on the 16th, let's not forget the gala performance of Verdi's Requiem by La Scala at Hayarkon Park. Just the tip of the iceberg, dozens of other events, exhibits and performances have been planed to take place over the next few months. After all, it's not every day that our country's showcase city turns 100. Take that, Saddam, wherever you are. For more information, visit tlv100.co.il