Fair delights and thrills
IT'S Christmas time. Fair director Monty Hammond is bustling from ride to ride, ensuring everything is in place before it all begins.
At his nod, the fairground, taking up three football pitches at Victoria Park, is filled with carnival music, whistles, the smell of pop corn and English candy floss, and the screams of fun-seekers swept to new heights of excitement by spectacular rides.
The traditional English ''Worldwide Family Fun Fair'', the world's biggest travelling fair of its kind, has returned to Hong Kong after its debut last year.
This time it presents an adventure new to Asia - the Orbiter, voted number one ride in the US.
The $35 million enterprise involves 47 workmen manning ten major rides and 14 games stalls, a total of 600 tonnes of equipment.
For Mr Hammond and his family, operating a fair is ''something in the blood''.
''It's not just a business, it's a way of life,'' said Mrs Kay Hammond.
The couple inherited this century-old business from Mr Hammond's grandfather who used to go ''village hopping'' all over England with his horse-drawn rides, wing boats and mini-carousel.
Now it's the Super Trooper, Matterhorn, Twist, Rocker Plane, Waltzer and Ghost Train, besides Dodgems (Bumper Cars), the all-time-favourite. But the Hammond family is still travelling.
Actress Lau Ka-ling joyfully opened the fair by donating $50,000 to the Children's Cancer Foundation. ''A fun fair like this reminds me of children,'' she said.
Little children ducked into the Toy Ride, Train Ride and Cup'n Saucer, while teenagers went for scarier thrills with the Matterhorn, Rocker Plane and Phantom Chase.
After trying the Super Meteor, which lifts and spins at an angle, Form One students Ada Man and Stephanie Cheung said: ''So long as you don't look down, it's all right. But as we rose higher, our faces felt as if they were coming apart because of the wind pressure!'' ''Serious accidents almost never occur,'' Ms Kay Hammond said. ''But Hong Kong people are careful, they observe first before trying the faster rides.'' The Worldwide Family Fun Fair runs until January 10 every day, from 2.00 pm, at Victoria Park. From January 14 to 25 it will be at Sha Tsui Road playground, Tsuen Wan, and then will move to Moreton Terrace, Causeway Bay, from February 3 to 18.
The fair plans to visit Shenzhen and Taiwan after Hong Kong.