Proceeds donated to the women and children of the Philippines affected by the typhoon
Peace Plaza of Olympic Park located in Songpa-gu, Seoul was filled with red waves of 3,000 volunteers in Santa costume. Marking its 8th anniversary this year, the Santa Sports Up Festival is a family sports event that has been donating part of its proceeds to aspiring youth athletes of unpopular sports. This year, the festival became all the more meaningful by supporting women and children of the Philippines suffering from the aftermath of the recent typhoon.
3,000 participants wearing Santa hats, scarves, and capes filled Peace Plaza and enjoyed the festivity taking pictures with friends, family, and colleagues. The festival prepared events such as 5km marathon, 5km walking, tug-of-war, and sports tournaments. Citizens of all generations from the age three to 80 enjoyed the festival on a pleasantly cold winter day. Han Sang-geol (72) visited the festival with his three-year-old granddaughter. “We should give back to others just as other countries helped us during difficult times,” Han said. Lee Sang-jin (52) attended the event with his seven-year-old son, Geon-hee. “I thought it would be a good experience for my son before Christmas,” Han said. “He’s been looking forward to this event so much that he brought his own Santa hat from home.”
Some attended the event with their friends and colleagues. Jo Ah-ra (26) visited the festival with her old high school classmates. “We usually do nothing more than going to restaurants or café whenever we meet, so it feels great to make a special memory running marathon with friends,” she said. Members of an Argentine Tango Club, Adiccion, who also brought their children to the event said that the festival provided an opportunity for the club members to gather.
Public figures of all corners of the society including Songpa-gu Mayor Park Chun-hee, Saenuri Party lawmaker Lee Jasmine, Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Chun-jin, Panasonic Director Suzaki Tetsuya, Donghwa Sesang Educo CEO Kim Yeong-cheol, Hanlim Multi Art School Principal Lee Hyeon-min, Celebrity Ryu Si-hyeon, Women & Culture In Network President Seo Eun-kyeong, and Eduzone CEO Seong Yeong-nam attended the event. In her opening remarks, Kim Hyo-seon, Publisher of the Women’s News which is the host of the event, said, “Santa Sports Festival is organized to spread the culture of sharing while providing participants an opportunity to donate and enjoy sports activities at the same time.” “This year’s festival is even more special in that it donates part of its proceeds to the children of the Philippines who are affected by the typhoon. We hope that our little contribution helps restoring the damages,” she said. Kim presented the donation to Wendy Palomo, head of the 601 Habit, a relief group created by Filipino women residing in Korea to help their home country suffering from the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan.
At the festival’s opening ceremony, Songpa-gu mayor Park Chun-hee said that he was “glad that the Santa Sports Up Festival promoting peace and unity is being held at the symbolic venue of Olympic Park’s Peace Plaza.” “The event is special because it helps the young athletes of unpopular sports and the women of the Philippines,” he said. Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Chun-jin applauded the festival participants saying that “the Philippines helped us during the Korean War and now you have become a helper to them by participating in this event.” Lawmaker Lee Jasmine who is an ethnic Filipino expressed her thanks to the participants by saying, “I am grateful for all your help through this festival, as many women and children in the Philippines have lost their families and homes due to the disaster that should’ve never happened.”
Suzaki Tetsuya, Director of Panasonic Korea Ltd. said that his company sympathizes with the cause of Santa Sports Festival since Panasonic’s main business concepts are focused on health and beauty. “When Japan was hit by a tsunami three years ago, it was able to bounce back thanks to the help of the international society. I’m glad that Panasonic can help the Philippines through this Festival,” he said. Principal Lee Hyun-min of Hanrim Multi Art School said, “It feels as though I went back to my childhood wearing Santa costume.” “I am delighted to be a Santa delivering presents to kids and especially to help the troubled people of the Philippines,” he said.
Various companies set up booths and held special events at the festival. Namyang Dairy Products Co. Ltd. provided free warm coffee as a promotion event for their new drink. Manager Lee Jeong Wook of Namyang said that he was happy to be a part of the festival. Donghwa Sesang Educo has been sending a large number of employees to the festival every year. This year, 500 employees attended the festival. One official of Educo said, “Educo’s core value reads that to share is to grow.” He said that it is now natural for Educo employees to attend the festival every winter.
The 2013 Santa Sports Festival was hosted by the Women’s News, organized by Women & Culture In Network, and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, and Songpa-gu Office.