Cheung Chau bun scramble axed amid thunderstorm

May 26, 2015 15:43
The buns on the towers (left) were drenched by the rain. Children dressed up as officials including Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (right) took part in the festival parade on Cheung Chau. Photos: Metro Daily

Seasoned rock climber Wong Ka-yan was ready.

It was just an hour until the annual bun scramble on Cheung Chau, and Wong, last year's female winner, was looking forward to repeating her victory.

But the weather wasn't cooperating.

Amid a thunderstorm warning, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) announced at 11 p.m. Monday that the race was cancelled.

It was the first time it had called off the televised event since the competition was reinstated in 2005, Metro Daily reported.

In the bun scramble, contestants clamber up scaffolding next to three towers covered with buns, trying to collect as many buns as they can.

Yung Chi-ming, chairman of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival Committee, said the towers were made of iron, and there was a risk of electric shock during the thunderstorm.

The organizers issued a public apology to spectators, and ferries were arranged for them to leave the island at 11:30 p.m.

Wong was disappointed by the cancellation, but she said she agreed with the organizers' decision, as safety should be the top priority.

Meanwhile, the organizers ordered an additional 4,000 buns to be produced, as those on the three bun towers had been soaked in the rain over the last few days.

Traditionally, the buns on the towers are distributed to residents after the festival, a ritual that is said to bring good luck.

A representative of the organizers said the buns on the towers will be trashed, and the 4,000 new buns will be handed out Tuesday.

Would-be bun scramblers will have to wait until next year, as the LCSD said it will not be holding a make-up competition.

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