Happy 45th birthday Singapore! And so, I was at the national day parade (NDP) tonight. I was fortunate to be invited to watch it today at a rather short notice thanks to an ex-classmate of mine who knew I was around town and happened to have an additional ticket at the last minute. :3
This was of course contrary to my initial plan to just spend the long weekend at home watching it, seems the unexpected kind honours of attending this year’s parade at the Padang itself came very much impromptu!
Getting there was not much of a problem, with the exception of the rather packed MRT stations. The tube is in fact one of the few best ways to get there with all the crowds above ground and contrary to the bus route I taken (which actually made diversions further than what I’ve expected from the venue itself). Nonetheless I arrived on time at the venue with a good selection of grandstand seats to choose from.
Prior to being seated there were of course security checks and the distribution of famed goodie bags. I was not surprised that my bag items and funbox were all damaged, with their faces dented & corners ripped, considering how the logistics have them all piled up in mountains. Guess my box is not that lucky in the handling department despite it’s serial number ending with 0888 :P. On a bright side, thankfully there was ample food for always-hungry people like me, not to mention enough drinks in the packs to last the whole parade proper.
Having toured some parts of the marina bay since I returned to Singapore, I was initially puzzled by the fact that both the Padang and the floating platform had performing stages decked on them, so I thought there were going to be 2 concurrent venues for this year’s event. Later do I know from some of my contacts on the YOG that the floating platform was actually used for the opening ceremony the day before. In other words, given the smaller seating capacity at the Padang this year, there are actually much fewer tickets and thus more exclusivity to this year’s parade as I was told.
Looking back, the last time I’ve attended a live NDP parade in person was more than 10 years ago, in 1997 to be exact where I participated as a performer in the combined school choir- something which I never actually see myself doing but got to understanding and appreciating the workings into bringing about a successful NDP performance. I’ve been much of an NDP critic over the last few years then, with a benchmark of the next always being better than the last. This is also particularly true towards the NDP songs, which are always notoriously known to be too cheesy for their own good. The ones over the last year including this present one are commendable indeed.
The parade was rather short in my opinion, lasting about 2 hours tops. I remembered past NDPs being slightly longer, or maybe the considering of the mobile column segment eating considerably into some performance time, therefore fewer performances this year.
With the exception of one band parade member fainting, performances are good, the floats this year are at least proper ones too and not some “pick up truck convert”. The lighting throughout the performances were nice as well, with the exception of those situated in front of the green grandstand, where 2 sets of coloured floodlights were constantly on blinding all the audiences sitting on the yellow grandstand.
Noticeably is the animated projection on the city hall which I last saw at the Cambridge University’s 800th Anniversary courtesy of Projection Studio London, wondered if they are responsible for the ones at this NDP too.
The ending fireworks lasted about 5 minutes, not the longest NDP fireworks to date, but one of the most diverse with new launch points on top of buildings as well as whole new sights of the central business district and the marina bay sands. Crowd control after the event was well managed too, with everyone moved on steadily out of the venue. Humorously a looping audio reel constantly playing the background reminds you of the respective MRT station directions to head to from the event, with smooth calming instrumental jazz music.
In all a great event, fitting for Singapore’s 45 years of independence.