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BUN-SNATCHING FESTIVAL. A child dressed in a traditional Chinese costume (top photo) floats in the air supported by a rig of hidden metal rods during a parade on Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival. Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to the outlying island for the local bun festival despite record-breaking heat. The event featured a parade with children dressed as deities floating on poles and a bun-scrambling competition. In the bottom photo, shopkeepers are seen selling buns with the sign of the Chinese character "Peace" at the Bun Festival. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

From The Asian Reporter, V28, #11 (June 4, 2018), page 5.

Thousands join Hong Kong bun-snatching festival

HONG KONG (AP) — Thousands of people flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong to celebrate a local bun festival despite record-breaking heat.

A parade featuring children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later, contestants in a bun-scrambling competition raced up a 46-foot bamboo tower to snatch as many plastic buns as possible. Buns higher up the pole are worth more points.

One of Hong Kong’s oldest and most colorful festivals started about a century ago after a deadly plague devastated the outlying island of Cheung Chau. Residents built an altar in front of the Pak Tai temple imploring the deities for help and used white steamed buns as offerings to drive away the evil spirits, according to tradition.

The bun-snatching contest was cancelled after a bun tower collapsed in 1978, injuring 100 people.

The tradition was revived in 2005 as part of an annual "Bun Festival." As added safety measures this year, workers built a sturdier tower and bun snatchers received mountaineering training.

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