SINGAPOREANS from all walks of life united in a boisterous celebration on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of Singapore's independence with the nation's grandest National Day Parade yet. Returning to the Padang this year - a site of deep historic significance as the venue for Singapore's first National Day Parade in 1966 - the parade drew some 26,000 people who were seated at the Padang and over 200,000 more around the Marina Bay downtown area.
Foreign dignitaries such as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key flew in specially for the occasion to celebrate alongside local members of parliament, political office holders and cabinet ministers.
Parade spectators sang, clapped and cheered through 2.5 hours of rousing performances of National Day tunes by homegrown crooners Dick Lee, JJ Lin, Kit Chan, Stefanie Sun and Corrine May, and spectacular aerial fly-pasts by Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) personnel, including a special "Five Stars" tribute by the Black Knights to the late founding prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.
Another first for this year was a special nostalgia-themed vintage parade segment that featured over 450 participants from different sectors that contributed to the early growth of the nation, such as pioneers from the Singapore Armed Forces' veterans league as well as veterans from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the Singapore Police Force, and POSB Bank, each one clad in uniforms from decades past.
The festivities were capped by the biggest pyrotechnics display ever to light up the Singapore skyline, consisting of never-before-seen fireworks such as a 300m long rainbow arc and fireworks in the shape of orchid flowers, a smiley face, a heart shape, the crescent moon and stars, and a continuous blast of fireworks lasting 4-5 minutes as a grand finale.