With the formal opening of the Christmas village by the governor, Prof Ben Ayade, Calabar looks ready to host the world for this year's carnival.
The flag-off heralded the month-long activities for this year's Christmas festivities which would be rounded off with Carnival Calabar on 27 December.
Ayade, who was represented at the ceremony by his wife, Dr. Linda Ayade and the Special Assistant to the Governor on Event Management, Sir Ken Aklah, said the Christmas Village would avail residents of the state and its environs as well as visitors to the state a place to ease themselves of every burden and unwind throughout the festive season.
He said that the Christmas Village usually opened once in a year helps in reducing crime rate as residents of the state take advantage of the business opportunities that come along with the opening of the village.
The governor said social amenities like pipe borne water, electricity, security, among several other needs had been provided by the government of the state to cater for the welfare of visitors to the village to catch fun.
Meanwhile, during the World HIV/AIDS Day, the governor's wife had spoken about the necessity of knowing one's HIV status, saying it was no longer a death sentence to know one's status.
She said the government had provided drugs free of charge to prolong the lives of people of the state living with HIV/AIDS.
"Know your status. Unlike before it used to be a death sentence but that is not what obtains today. Know your status is rather giving life because it helps one to plan his life further and our lives are in our hands.
"Everywhere you find yourself, you have an opportunity to be tested, and when you are tested and are positive, the good news is that these drugs are provided free of charge.
"Every drug has been brought to the doorstep of Cross Riverians to keep them alive. Therefore, they have to seize the opportunity of life offered to them by the state government to get free medication. This will ensure that they keep the viral load in check and so can never die of HIV," she said.
Speaking in a similar vein to mark the World HIV/AIDS Day, Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong stated that the state government, in collaboration with development partners, have begun door to door testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS in the state.
The commissioner said the state government was taking the message directly to the people in the grassroots and this had created massive awareness to the extent that in some communities in the state such as Calabar Municipality residents have known their status and they now have access to drugs.
"The HIV day is just one day but in Cross River State, it is a continuous process. We have numerous partners supporting us in the HIV/AIDS activity. We have the community RT where we have health workers go into the community, to people's houses to get them tested because we want to make sure that everyone in Cross River State knows their status which is the theme of this year's event.
“90 per cent of the people in Calabar Municipality know their HIV status and this is very remarkable and commendable. We are working to ensure that those who are infected should actually be able to have their medications. The Cross River State government is working with partners in giving out free HIV medications,” she said.