One of the things that irritate me most are people who goes around pretending to be so passionate about Port Elizabeth but uses every opportunity they get to ridicule, belittle and critisise it around every corner. One of the only things that irritate me even more than that are those people who always say there is nothing to do or see in the city. And when you combine the two above... Gosh, don't let me start.
Over the last month or two there have been two occasions where somebody mentioned Happy Valley on a PE related Facebook page which I really enjoy. Problem is people just used the opportunity to jump on their high horses and slated Happy Valley calling it a crime nest, a place where you only go if you want to loose your life, a disgrace to the city, broken and not cared for and more. What did I do? I jumped to its defense. Why? Because unlike those people who haven't been there in probably over a decade and slating it, I've been there recently. At this stage I have to add that even though I had been there and had the proof, there were still some people who told me I don't know what I was talking about and that I was living in a dream world.
So this is what I found. Happy Valley is still stunning. The municipality is tending the gardens, mowing the lawns and keep the place very tidy. There is security near the entrance of Happy Valley and they do walk around to check things. They will also be happy to take a walk up the valley with you if you feel like you would like to have an escort and ask them nicely. The characters have all been redone in the last few years with touch-ups recently. I think I saw two damaged characters (poor Timone lost an arm) plus Dogmatix took a walk and is hanging out with the Three Little Pigs. Unfortunately you find people all over the world who will vandalise things and its not always possible to fix it immediately. I didn't feel unsafe and was comfortable walking alone. I know there were incidents in Happy Valley a number of years ago but nothing has happened in the last few years. Just like you can get hit by a car walking across the road if you don't exercise precaution (as in looking left and right) I would still recommend going with other people and being observant and conscious about what is going on around you.
The only snag they have at the moment is the lighting. The electric system was stolen a year or so ago but everything was on course to be ready for this coming season when it was vandalized and spotlights stolen again a few weeks back. I spoke to the Beach Office this morning to get the latest update and was told that the front section (the two lawns) will have lights and that the new Happy Valley sign is going up in the next week or so. They are looking at alternatives to get the back lit up at this stage. Walking up Happy Valley on a warm summers evening with the kids has always been a Port Elizabeth institution but even if you won't be able to do so at night this coming season, it shouldn't stop you from doing so during the day.
Long live Happy Valley!