AP PHOTOS: Thousands join Hong Kong bun-snatching festival

A child dressed in a traditional Chinese costume floats in the air, supported by a rig of hidden metal rods, during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong to celebrate a local bun festival on Tuesday despite the recording-breaking heat. The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later on Tuesday, contestants will take part in bun-scrambling competition. They will race up a 14-meter bamboo tower to snatch as many plastics buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A child dressed in a traditional Chinese costume floats in the air, supported by a rig of hidden metal rods, during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
People walk in front of the bun towers on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong, Tuesday, May 22, 2018 to celebrate the Bun Festival. During the Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Villagers stand in front of the King of ghosts on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong to celebrate a local bun festival on Tuesday despite the recording-breaking heat. The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later on Tuesday, contestants will take part in bun-scrambling competition. They will race up a 14-meter bamboo tower to snatch as many plastics buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Villagers perform lion dance during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Participants climb up the bun tower during the bun snatching competition on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, to celebrate the Bun Festival. During the Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Children dressed in athletics costume float in the air, supported by a rig of hidden metal rods, during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Police officers look the buns for sale on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong to celebrate a local bun festival on Tuesday despite the recording-breaking heat. The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later on Tuesday, contestants will take part in bun-scrambling competition. They will race up a 14-meter bamboo tower to snatch as many plastics buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Shopkeepers sell the buns with the sign featuring the Chinese character "Peace" on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong to celebrate a local bun festival on Tuesday despite the recording-breaking heat. The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later on Tuesday, contestants will take part in bun-scrambling competition. They will race up a 14-meter bamboo tower to snatch as many plastics buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A man kisses his son as a child dressed in a traditional Chinese costume floats in the air, supported by a rig of hidden metal rods, during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scare away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Villagers carry a bun tower during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A child dressed in a traditional Chinese costume floats in the air, supported by a rig of hidden metal rods, during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Participants climb up the bun tower during the bun snatching competition on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, to celebrate the Bun Festival. During the Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A children perform lion dance during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong to celebrate a local bun festival on Tuesday despite the recording-breaking heat. The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later on Tuesday, contestants will take part in bun-scrambling competition. They will race up a 14-meter bamboo tower to snatch as many plastics buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A child dressed in a traditional Chinese costume floats in the air, supported by a rig of hidden metal rods, during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong to celebrate a local bun festival on Tuesday despite the recording-breaking heat. The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later on Tuesday, contestants will take part in bun-scrambling competition. They will race up a 14-meter bamboo tower to snatch as many plastics buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Villagers carry a statue of a Chinese god during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong to celebrate a local bun festival on Tuesday despite the recording-breaking heat. The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later on Tuesday, contestants will take part in bun-scrambling competition. They will race up a 14-meter bamboo tower to snatch as many plastics buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Participants climb up the bun tower during the bun snatching competition on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, to celebrate the Bun Festival. During the Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Villagers brave the heat during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong to celebrate the Bun Festival Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Bun Festival, the Taoist God of the Sea, is worshipped and evil spirits are scared away by loud gongs and drums during the procession. The celebration includes bun scrambling, parades, opera performances, and children dressed in colorful costumes. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG — Thousands of people flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong on Tuesday to celebrate a local bun festival despite recording-breaking heat.

A parade featured children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later, contestants in a bun-scrambling competition raced up a 14-meter (46-foot) bamboo tower to snatch as many plastic buns as possible. Buns higher up the pole are worth more points.

One of Hong Kong's oldest and most colorful festivals started about a century ago after a deadly plague devastated the outlying island of Cheung Chau. Residents built an altar in front of the Pak Tai temple imploring the deities for help and used white steamed buns as offerings to drive away the evil spirits, according to tradition.

The bun-snatching contest was canceled after a bun tower collapsed in 1978, injuring 100 people.

The tradition was revived in 2005 as part of an annual "bun festival." As added safety measures this year, workers built a sturdier tower and bun snatchers received mountaineering training.

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