The carpenter of Marsiling brings Christmas cheer with snow and decorations

Carpenter Tan Koon Tat with his Christmas decorations at Woodlands Street 13, on Dec 23, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Residents having fun at the snow party with the Christmas decorations put up by Mr Tan Koon Tat at Woodlands Street 13. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Residents having fun at the snow party with the Christmas decorations put up by Mr Tan Koon Tat, at Woodlands Street 13. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Mr Tan Koon Tat gives out Christmas presents to residents. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Two nights before Christmas, Tan Koon Tat turned on his snow machine at the carpark entrance next to Block 179, Woodlands Street 13, and watched as children squealed with delight and ran into the floating "snow".

Covered in white on a warm Saturday (Dec 23) evening, they darted happily in front of the Christmas decorations Mr Tan built himself.

A Santa Claus figure sat in a sleigh with glowing reindeer in front, while above them multi-coloured lights shone brightly to Christmas songs floating in the air.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Tan said that he has been building festive decorations for his neighbourhood for more than 10 years because he wanted to make his neighbours happy, though it was only in the past two or three years that he got more ambitious.

"The neighbours asked me if I could make the decorations bigger," he said with a smile. "So I did."

Spending his own money, he specially creates decorations five times a year - for Christmas, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali and National Day. Mr Tan has said that these are done with the blessing of the Marsiling-Yew Tee Town Council.

He takes about two weeks to construct all the pieces, before setting everything up in three days.

This year, he bought 150 small presents that he will give to children under 12 years old in the neighbourhood.

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He kept the stuffed toys in a sack, just like Santa Claus, and will distribute them every night until Christmas.

His daughter, administrative officer Regina Tan, said that the whole family was very proud of him.

"As long as what he does has a positive impact on the community, we'll always support him," said Ms Tan, 24.

Mr Matthew Leong, 23, who lives just upstairs of the Tans, and said he was amazed that Mr Tan focuses on the neighbourhood in such a big way. "I had a chat with a father from Bukit Batok who saw the news and brought his kids here. It boggles my mind how he brings people here from all over Singapore," said the management student.

"It really warms my heart to see everyone coming together."

On Mr Tan's public decorations, Mr Louis Ng, MP for Nee Soon GRC, said: "Christmas is all about the spirit of giving and Mr Tan exemplifies this. He gives from his heart and has helped to bring the festive cheer to our community without fail. My Christmas wish is that we have more Mr Tans in our community."

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah added: "It's always good to see residents bring the festive spirit to the community. Besides Mr Tan, there are others doing similar things in different parts of Singapore too. For example in my area, some residents decorate the streets for Chinese New Year."

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