Thursday, October 2, 2014

Highlights of the 2014 National Day Parade



During the month of August, Singapore celebrated its 49th year of independence. As usual, a big birthday bash was held at the Marina Bay area to celebrate the wonderful occasion, and for the very first time, I finally scored tickets to the parade thanks to successful balloting. It's the first time I attended the National Day Parade [NDP] (Not including the Primary 5 NE Show I attended few years back) and I can't wait to share with you all the awesome stuff that happened during the signature event.
Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng


1. The Entry and Warm Up


I arrived at the The Float @ Marina Bay a little late so I did not witness the warm up part of the event where emcees will sing along with the audience. Before entering the venue, I went through some security checks and collected the goodie bags (known as the Fun Pack) located at a distance away from the stadium itself. It would be great if I can talk about what was inside the Fun Pack (which I think is the best goodie bag you can ever receive) but it would take lots of time to write as the contents were really A LOT.

Getting there was easy thanks to the directional signs and friendly ambassadors to guide the participants. With the huge amount of security counters, the process from start to finish was pretty effortless and it didn't take long. Props to the NDP team for making it effortless.

2. The Arrival of the Red Lions (and the Junior Red Lions)


Although I was late, I was still on time for the arrival of the Red Lions. It's an NDP tradition whereby the Red Lions (the Singapore Armed Forces Parachute Team) will be parachuting down all the way to the NDP venue. This year is special as Singapore's first female Red Lions, Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng, made her maiden parachute.

She was supposed to have made her maiden jump at last year's NDP but they called the whole thing off due to cloud cover. The jump was really spectacular and Miss Shirley Ng was the Red Lion which received the most cheers from the audience. Another great thing was the Junior Red Lions where a selected group of children get to train with the Red Lions for their parachuting. How I wish I had such chances when I was younger but oh well.
Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng
Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng
Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng

3. The National Day Song Mashups


Unlike previous National Day celebrations, there was no National Day song this year. There was no clear reason given so the NDP committee's idea was to mash up old National Day songs and give them a modern twist to it so that everyone, no matter the age, can sing along. The National Day "mashup" songs include mashing up songs of previous years like Home, One People One Nation, One Song, We Will Get There and more. Some talented local singers who sung the mashups include veterans like Rahimah Rahim along with younger ones like Jack and Rai, Sheikh Haikel and much more. The audience had a really great time singing along to the National Day song mashups.

4. The Parade and Ceremony


After an hour of Red Lions and sing along sessions (called the Pre-Parade segment), it was time for the Parade segment. Contingents from the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force marched out to the floating platform along with other Singapore organisations like NTUC, Sembcorp and more.

The parade also had some of the contingencies performing various moves and the marching band played various National Day songs (called a Military Tattoo performance) to lighten up the mood along with the various secondary school Uniform Groups standing side by side with the contingencies during the Parade and Ceremony.

5. The Arrival of the President, Prime Minister and Minister Mentor



The arrivals of the President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong and the Minister Mentor (AKA the father of modern Singapore), Mr Lee Kuan Yew are always looked forward to by the audiences. As usual, loud cheers erupted when they arrived in their slick-looking motorcade. However, nothing tops the loud cheers when Mr Lee Kuan Yew arrived into the NDP venue together with the Ministers. It was the first time I have seen them in real life and I was excited to see them making their appearances at the celebration although I was seated quite far from them. Fun fact, Mr Lee Kuan Yew has never missed an NDP event since its first.

6. The Flypast


Shortly after the arrival of all Ministers, Members of Parliament, the President, the Prime Minister and Minister Mentor, a helicopter with a giant Singapore flag suspended will fly past the audience along with the flypast of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) various military aircraft will make their appearance.


It was a great experience singing the National Anthem when the flypast was happening and since the Singapore flag made its appearance, it was an honour singing the anthem when it was flying past me. (Although, many people were more interested in taking a photo and videos of the fly-past during the singing of the National Anthem).

7. The Defence Showcase



I'm not 100% sure what's the name of this segment but I call it the Defence Showcase just to make. The SAF, SCDF and the SPF will basically "show off" their weapons, tanks and machines to the audience to showcase their capabilities in defending Singapore. Some interesting bits of the showcase include the part where they simulated a terror attack at the floating platform and what the defencemen will do to stop the attack.


The 21 Guns salute along with the Fire of Joy segment were pretty awesome as well and ultimately, my favourite was the part where the unmanned fire-fighting machine sprayed the audience with water. Unfortunately (or, fortunately), the unmanned fire-fighting machine did not spray the area where I was seated. With the innovations created by ST Kinectics along with the brave defencemen of the SAF, SPF and SCDF will make sure that Singapore will stay safe. Kudos to the people who contributed to Singapore's defence and most importantly, we should always never take Singapore for granted.

8. The Motivational Videos


One of the most emotional parts of the NDP were the motivational videos that were presented to the audience. They showed different fictional Singaporean characters embracing their lives and overcoming their difficulties. One of them was a former ex-convict who had difficulties finding a new job while another guy wanted to pursue his passion of dancing but his parents and his work life made it difficult from achieving his dream.

All the videos were about them overcoming difficulties and eventually become who they wanted to be. The videos also included interviews of veteran Singaporeans who pursued their passions and became successful as a result of their passion. They're motivational and at the same time, emotional. Some of the real life counterparts of the characters featured in the videos made their appearance at the NDP attracting cheers from the crowd.

9. The Multimedia Shows


Before the NDP came to a close, a multimedia show will be presented to the audience with different "acts" performed by various communities and students around Singapore. Some of the acts shown included a dance number where they danced along to an electropop song called "Big Island", composed by Dick Lee, a renowned local music composers and a slightly more emotional song/rap performed by homegrown rapper, Shigga Shay.

One of the acts also included folk songs being played and performed like Chan Mali Chan and Di Tanjong Katong which are favourites of many Singaporeans. The part I loved most was the folk song sing along session which reminded me of my Primary School days. By the way, the song Big Island has been stuck in my head ever since. Whenever I think of NDP 2014, the song will start playing in my head.

10. The Grand Finale - FIREWORKS!!!


Of course, they always save the best for the last which is a crowd favourite - fireworks. Although everyone enjoyed the activities and performances earlier, the part where they were anticipating for are the fireworks which has been a staple of the NDP. It's been long since I last saw fireworks in real life so seeing all these beautiful and majestic fireworks right in front of my face were definitely breathtaking and spectacular.


As it was held at the Marina Bay area, the fireworks can be seen throughout the whole bay area. It's really cool as even if you don't get tickets to the event, so long as you're in the Marina Bay area, you get to enjoy fireworks as well which is somewhat like a 360 degree fireworks experience. After the 10-minute fireworks experience, it was time to end off the show with the President and Prime Minister leaving the floating platform with their swanky motorcade and thanking all the performers, the audience and the people who made the event happen.

Conclusion


The NDP 2014 was a memorable experience for me. I finally got the chance to watch the NDP at the venue rather than on TV and believe me, the experience was one-of-a-kind and much more energetic. The water defence display was phenomenal, the beautiful views were breathtaking and the fact that all the performers get to face all of the audience compared to the other venues were definitely special. Even non-ticket holders get to enjoy the celebration.

For NDP 2015, it will be held at the Padang (NDP will be at Padang every 5 years) for Singapore's 50th and from 2016 onwards, it'll be held at the new National Stadium. If you have missed this year's NDP, try your luck for next year's event. I know I will. What do you think of this year's NDP? Is it awesome? Which year has your favourite NDP? Do let me know in the comments below.

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