Eating, shopping replace Christmas fireworks in Pattaya

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With fireworks banned and public parades banished, Christmas in Pattaya was a time to eat, drink and shop merrily.

The Children’s Choir sings beautiful hymns at St. Nikolaus Church.
The Children’s Choir sings beautiful hymns at St. Nikolaus Church.

Organized celebrations were canceled in Pattaya in observance of the mourning period for HM the late King and, overall, city streets seemed a little quieter than usual. Inside malls and restaurants was a different story, however.

Popular restaurants were packed as ever with many places booked two weeks in advance. Set courses featuring roasts, turkey, side dishes and desserts were most in demand.

Many, particularly expats, decided to stay home and host their own dinners so that they could avoid the traffic and crowded restaurants.

Hotels, like the popular Dusit Thani Pattaya, Amari Pattaya, Hilton, Centara hotels and others posted occupancy rates of 85-95 percent. Their Christmas Eve dinner packages offering all-inclusive champagne and buffets seemed to have sold well for those who wished to relax at the hotel instead of fighting their way through a crowd of people.

Worshippers receive the Eucharist during Christmas Mass at St. Nikolaus Church.
Worshippers receive the Eucharist during Christmas Mass at St. Nikolaus Church.

Shopping malls and markets were quite busy as last-minute shoppers grabbed up promotional items and deals for friends, family and loved ones. Central Festival Pattaya Beach was one of the primary locations for shoppers, but the newly reopened Central Marina had a great crowd of people as well.

Despite all the retail worship, the religious side of the Christian holiday was not forgotten with crowds of Thais and foreigners packing into St. Nikolas Church and Assumption Church for services in both English and Thai languages.

Santa could be seen everywhere in Walking Street.
Santa could be seen everywhere in Walking Street.

Of course, in Pattaya, where the unusual is usual, elephants were brought in to celebrate Christmas at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden. Director Kampol Tansajja organized seven pachyderms, ages 2-3 years, to dress up as Santa for the occasion. A parade formed and sexy female Santas posed with gifts and elephants. The celebration runs through Jan. 3.

Walking Street in South Pattaya was abuzz as well, with shoulder to shoulder pedestrian traffic enjoying the many diverse sights the area is known for.

Lovely cherubs welcome worshippers to Assumption Church to celebrate Christmas Mass.
Lovely cherubs welcome worshippers to Assumption Church to celebrate Christmas Mass.
A tiny cherub celebrates Christmas.
A tiny cherub celebrates Christmas.
A handsome young couple and their child enjoy the Christmas spirit in church.
A handsome young couple and their child enjoy the Christmas spirit in church.
Snow White greets the little ones on Christmas Eve.
Snow White greets the little ones on Christmas Eve.
Food stalls aplenty at Central Festival Pattaya Beach.
Food stalls aplenty at Central Festival Pattaya Beach.
Guests from overseas are enjoying the Christmas spirit in the sub-tropics.
Guests from overseas are enjoying the Christmas spirit in the sub-tropics.
Walking Street is entertaining at any time of year, but especially during holidays like Christmas.
Walking Street is entertaining at any time of year, but especially during holidays like Christmas.
Santa’s helpers come out in force on Christmas along Walking Street.
Santa’s helpers come out in force on Christmas along Walking Street.
It was Neon Party night at Central Marina.
It was Neon Party night at Central Marina.
Singing carols in church is a cherished tradition for many worshippers.
Singing carols in church is a cherished tradition for many worshippers.
Elephants at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens are dressed for the occasion.
Elephants at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens are dressed for the occasion.
Mrs. Claus with maids in waiting entertain guests at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens.
Mrs. Claus with maids in waiting entertain guests at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens.
The Dusit Thani Pattaya hosted a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner and show, which also happened to be a very special birthday for Peggy Sanders’ (center) from Sanders Law Group in Seattle Washington. She celebrated the occasion with (L to R) Paul Strachan, David Sparks, Peggy, husband Ralph Sanders and brother Dan Dorothy.
The Dusit Thani Pattaya hosted a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner and show, which also happened to be a very special birthday for Peggy Sanders’ (center) from Sanders Law Group in Seattle Washington. She celebrated the occasion with (L to R) Paul Strachan, David Sparks, Peggy, husband Ralph Sanders and brother Dan Dorothy.
Vendors were doing brisk business selling Santa gear on Walking Street.
Vendors were doing brisk business selling Santa gear on Walking Street.