Food, fun and freebies on Pedestrian Nights, please

Keep it free and unstructured.

That was the message from most passers-by when asked what they want from Pedestrian Nights in Orchard Road.

Many hope a carnival atmosphere will sweep through the shopping district when it closes to vehicles, according to a straw poll of 50 people conducted by The Straits Times in Orchard Road during lunch hour yesterday.

From next Saturday, 660m of road between ION Orchard and Ngee Ann City will be pedestrianised from 6pm to 11pm every first Saturday of the month for six months in an initiative by the Orchard Road Business Association.

"Make it festival-like with a good mix of food, performance, crafts and unique stuff," said Mr Lim Ah Hock, 55, a sales manager.

"Perhaps there should be a theme every month and vendors follow the theme."

Others were more conservative.

"No foam parties," said Mrs Yeo Sin Lai, 42, a housewife.

Volunteer worker Cindy Kua, 58, said events should not be "too obscene" - with "no scantily-clad dancers" - and focus instead on learning.

"It should be something educational, like cultural exhibitions. Or even orchestras and theatre performances," she said.

Performances and concerts were popular choices, with both locals and tourists saying they would like to see free gigs.

Tourist James Davidson, 33, who is from Newcastle, Britain, said: "It'll be cool to have many small performances - like magic shows or buskers - instead of one big performance on a large stage."

Ms Veani Ram, 34, hopes that Pedestrian Night can be as interactive as the Georgetown Heritage Fest, held annually in her hometown of Penang, Malaysia.

"We could have fun cooking demonstrations, like how to make roti canai, and arts activities like kite-making," said Ms Ram.

Lecturer Kok Leong Yuen, 31, said he wants to see "something organic" and not a "corporate marketing spiel", adding: "Singapore has enough retail."

The majority want to have Orchard-level fun without Orchard-level costs.

"We want freebies, not Orchard Road prices," said accounts manager Peggy Ho, 50. "Orchard Road is already so expensive."

This article was first published on Sept 27, 2014.
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