In 1966, Singapore held her first-ever National Day Parade (NDP) as a one-year-old nation.
Since then, the NDP has evolved to become a highly-anticipated event with mass participation from all sectors of society.
This National Day, we do a #throwback to 1966 with a chronological account of the parade.
August 9, 1966 – 9am.
The parade commenced at 9am in the morning at the Padang. Until 1973, the parade took place in the morning instead of evening.
At that time, Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister, Toh Chin Chye was Deputy Prime Minister and S Rajaratnam was the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Culture.
They were photographed arriving at the parade:
Yusof Ishak (then-President of Singapore) rode in the ceremonial vehicle to wave to the crowd, and then inspected the parade.
The march-past took place after the parade inspection.
23,000 people were involved – including soldiers, civic and uniformed groups, teachers, trade unionists, and children. Because National Service was not implemented yet, many people in the contingents were volunteers.
The march-past was led by the People’s Defence Force (PDF). At that time, the PDF was a reserve combat unit to supplement the regular Singapore Army.
As the military contingents marched through Chinatown towards Tanjong Pagar, spectators would line the streets to watch them.
Some also watched from their balconies for a better view.
The parade included performances by students from various schools, and a lion and dragon dance display at City Hall.
At approximately 10.40am, rain fell.
However, the military contingents continued marching through the rain. Many spectators were also undeterred by the wet weather.
The parade had two fireworks displays. The first display took place at 4pm at the Padang.
In anticipation of the fireworks, people gathered at the Esplanade area. Hawkers also set up stalls along Queen Elizabeth Walk to cater to the crowd.
At night, there was a second fireworks display at Fort Canning Rise. Motor traffic in the area came to a standstill as thousands headed to Fort Canning to watch the fireworks.
Since 1966, the parades have evolved. Despite all the changes, the parade fundamentally serves as a reminder that Singapore is an independent nation.
Top image via NAS