Explosion of colour: Patrons at the Tai Tong Restaurant having dim sum under an array of lanterns.
GEORGE TOWN: With the Mid-Autumn Festival just around the corner, a restaurant in Cintra Street has been decked out with lanterns to usher in the celebration.
Thousands of lanterns were strung up at the Tai Tong Restaurant and the place has become a magnet for patrons and shutterbugs.
Manager James Lee, 55, said there were hundreds of people coming in daily just to take photographs.
“Many would admire the lanterns or take pictures. Some would even print the photographs for me.
“I don’t mind them doing that because it’s free publicity,” said Lee at the restaurant yesterday.
He recalled that back in the late 1990s, they only put up less than 100 lanterns because these were for decoration .
“Some customers would ask me to sell them a lantern, so I bought more than 10,000 lanterns of various sizes and patterns this year.”
Lee said his patrons included tourists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and the United States.
“Although we specialise in Chinese cuisine and our Mid-Autumn mooncakes, it seems that the lanterns are also a big draw now.
“A few of my foreign customers even buy them in bulk,” he said.
Among the attractive designs this year are the Flappy Bird, made famous by the Angry Birds mobile gaming app, and the Ninja Turtle that is based on the comicbook and movie characters.
Lee said the prices for the lanterns ranged from RM7 to RM68 apiece.
A young patron, three-year-old Kristen Chan, could not take her eyes off the colourful lanterns.
Her father, Kenneth, 37, said they just arrived from the Klang Valley.
“I thought I would bring my family to enjoy this wonderful scene,” he said.
“We can dine and admire the beautiful lanterns.”
The actual day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake or Lantern Festival, falls on Sept 9, which is the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.
Since the Shang Dynasty more than 3,500 years ago, this period is deemed the most auspicious for celebrating the harvest, and families would venture out to admire the moon.
During the Yuan Dynasty when the Mongols ruled China, legend has it that the rebels would pass messages hidden in mooncakes.