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Operation Santa Claus

Hong Kong ‘snowball’ battle puts visitors in festive mood at Swire’s Christmas fair

Fight with fake snow among other activities at event, whose proceeds will be donated to Operation Santa Claus

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 December, 2016, 5:24pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 December, 2016, 10:44pm

Snowball fights may be a classic activity during winter, but in downtown Hong Kong, they are a rare sight.

To get in the mood for a wintry Christmas, however, visitors of all ages pummelled rivals with fake snowballs, as part of the Swire Properties’ White Christmas street fair last week. The fair was held in Tong Chong Street, Taikoo Place, from December 1 to 3.

A Swire spokeswoman called its latest street fair event “Hong Kong’s first ever outdoor snowball fight” – though only fake snow was used.

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“The Tong Chong Street snow-covered playground was amazing,” she said. “With a donation, participants could form tag teams for two-on-two snowball fights.”

Proceeds from the fair will be donated to Operation Santa Claus (OSC), a joint annual charity campaign by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

Last year, the fair attracted about 28,000 visitors, raising HK$1.1 million. As a long-time donor, Swire Properties, which was set up in Hong Kong in 1972, had been working with OSC to support scores of local charities.

On the last day of this year’s fair, Swire held its annual Santathon Challenge, which saw two hundred teams, including parents and children dressed as Santas, competing in eight digital mini-games.

A Swire spokeswoman said participants went on a treasure hunt that took them from Taikoo Place to Taikoo Shing and Cityplaza.

“This year, we went digital,” she said. “Thanks to the newly launched TaikooGo mobile app, people had a chance to discover the history and biodiversity of the area.”

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She said that visitors also enjoyed a series of more traditional festive activities.

“Inside the ‘Happiness Express’ minivans, people could take part in a number of workshops and craft customised Christmas gifts,” she said. “Kids could enter a giant Christmas jar and take a picture with Santa himself.”

The street fair consisted of 25 stalls, which Swire said were supported by volunteer craft teams.

“There were Christmas ornaments, decorations, home-made jewellery and sweets to buy,” the spokeswoman said, “some of which were made by the Community Ambassador team, Swire Properties’ volunteer initiative”.

Visitors also enjoyed around-the-clock live entertainment while treating themselves to food and drinks from the many restaurants participating in the street fair.

This year, the fair was preceded by a “teaser” event, the Starstreet Precinct Christmas fair in Wan Chai, held on November 25 and 26.

The OSC last year raised a record-breaking HK$21.3 million for a variety of good causes in Hong Kong. This year, the organisers have set a minimum target of HK$17 million for a raft of new projects, many of which support the city’s youth.