From ‘Night Safari axes Halloween Horrors event after feedback’, 16 Sept 2011 and ‘Staff split over decision to cancel event, 19 Sept 2011, articles by Amanda Tan, ST
The Night Safari has canned a Halloween event – even though 1,000 tickets have been sold – because of feedback that it has no relevance to conservation. Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) has pulled the plug just two weeks before Halloween Horrors was to be held on weekends between Sept 30 and Oct 30.
On Thursday, WRS, which manages the Night Safari, said the decision was made ‘because of the negative feedback received from corporations, friends of the zoo, the public and the media about the event, especially over the relevance in relation to conservation’.
Ms Isabella Loh, director and newly-installed chief executive of the group, added that it agrees with comments made by President Tony Tan Keng Yam and that ‘WRS parks should have more family- bonding and wholesome activities’. On Sunday, Dr Tan was at the Singapore Zoo celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival when he said: ‘Such family bonding, I believe, is very important for Singapore because we need to create informal occasions where families, children can bond with their parents and grandparents. It is the best way of building a sense of unity and comfort within the family.’
….She said she had visited the event’s Haunted House on Monday and ‘got upset’ after that as she was ‘uncomfortable with the idea because it was too scary’. ‘I explained in an e-mail that that is a lot of money spent on an infrastructure (Haunted House) of devil worship,’ she said.
According to sources, Ms Loh said she had heard that ‘zebra heads were chopped off as a scare tactic’ as part of Halloween Horrors. Employees told her this was definitely not the case.
…On social media platform Facebook, netizens posted stinging comments on WRS’ page, while others had doubts over the reason given for the cancellation. One user, known as Jolyn Chia Yiling, wrote: ‘Maybe you guys would consider giving us a better excuse than we want to concentrate on Deepavali. Halloween in and of itself is also a great bonding activity for the whole family.’
The cancellation at the Night Safari has also come as disappointing news for 17 Singapore Polytechnic students. The third-year integrated events and project management students had conceptualised the theme, developed characters and designed costumes as part of their final-year project. They held their first full-dress rehearsal on Monday.
‘We’re disappointed. The students have done 90 per cent of the work and everyone was hyped up,’ said lecturer Jacqueline Ho, although she added that their grades would not be affected by the cancellation.
For an organisation that prides itself in conservation of endangered species, WRS is BLOODY cruel to Homo sapiens in the form of SP students . Isabella Loh’s knee-jerk reaction to Tony Tan’s comment during the Mooncake Festival among other anti-Halloween public complaints about Qing dynasty zombies in 201o demonstrates how easily organisations crumble under mounting pressure at the expense of wasted resources, logistics and broken hearts all round. Pulling the plug on some ghoulish fun is like a parent spanking a child for making funny faces, and as much as WRS has good intentions of keeping the Safari wholesome, it just goes to show that WRS is to a sense of humour and fun as a silver bullet is to a werewolf. The WRS chief also appears to be hiding behind the clout of Tony Tan as justification for the ban, when TT DID NOT STATE for the record that he disapproved of the spookfest in the first place. Not only does one flush the SP efforts down the toilet, but gives the impression that it was the President who gave the orders to do so.
Caving in to terrified parents who want to protect their children from being cursed with demonic possession is ignoring the simple fact that people have a choice of participating in Horrors or not, and surely there would have been precautions in place to ensure that the faint-hearted or scaredy-cats were warned well in advance before accidentally landing themselves on the Tram Ride to Eternal Hell. Organisers could have also toned down the event to just a few days over the weekend or raised the age limit, thereby arriving at a compromise between customers and dissenters. Banning this altogether is like driving a wooden stake through a someone’s chest just because he has a pale complexion and speaks with a Transylvanian accent, but more importantly it leaves a bad taste of dried blood in the mouths of 1000 customers who signed up for the event.
Halloween here has been a gleeful excuse for ladies to dress like Catwoman and men to put on make-up once a year, and is more a modified Cosplay event than traditional Jack O Lanterns or trick or treating, meaning it doesn’t necessarily have to be all freaky ghouls, goblins or ‘devil worship’. People can come dressed as Hitler, Batman and Joker, or members of ZZ Top if they want to. Unlike the ethnicity-specific Mooncake festival or the proposed ‘Horrors’ replacement Deepavali (Festival of FRIGHTS? hur hur), Halloween is a more ‘informal’ event which brings all ages together, not to mention it’s more FUN. It’s also one of the few ‘festivals’ we have that’s racially and religiously neutral (The others are New Year’s Day, May Day, National Day and of course April Fools’ Day), though it needs some time before Halloween becomes universally accepted as a legitimate family-fun activity rather than a weekend of drunken pranking and cheesy fake blood.