The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday that it will not allow monster mascots of the Keelung Ghost Festival to stage a “flash mob” performance on trains for fear that they might scare children onboard.
The decision was a setback for the Keelung City Government, which planned the performance as part of its Ghost Month festivities.
The city government planned for the monster mascots to take a TRA train on Saturday afternoon after the water lantern ritual to join the Ghost Festival parade in Keelung.
The train operator said that it allowed monster mascots for a similar event to board a train last year, which terrified many preschoolers and sparked complaints from parents.
The TRA added that it notified the Keelung City Culture Bureau last month that the proposal was rejected and found it “mind-boggling” that the city government made the announcement without securing the TRA’s consent.
“We will continue to communicate with the city government [about our objection],” the TRA said.
If people wearing the monster mascot outfits attempt to board any trains, the TRA can refuse to carry them and ask them to leave the train on the grounds that they would be acting “against public order,” in violation of the Railway Transport Regulations (鐵路運送規則), the TRA said.
While many people found it entertaining to see the monster mascots on the train last year, some small children were frightened to tears when they saw the grimacing monsters, the railway operator said.