10 things about S'pore's first National Day Parade in 1966

10 things about S'pore's first National Day Parade in 1966

SINGAPORE - The National Day Parade (NDP) this year will hark back to the first held in 1966 after Singapore's independence.

Policemen in shorts, nurses donning their white vintage caps and trishaw pullers will be part of a vintage parade at this year's celebrations at the Padang, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said during his ministry's Budget debate on Thursday.

The simple parade at the Padang 49 years ago celebrated the nation's first birthday since the split from Malaysia.

It was a far cry from the mass displays and multi-media extravaganzas that recent NDPs have become.

Here's more about Singapore's first NDP:

1. It started at 9am

The Parade was held at 9am in the morning at the City Hall. Evening parades did not occur until 1973.

2. More than 23,000 took part

Soldiers, uniformed groups, teachers, children, trade unionists, cultural groups, lion and dragon dancers all took part in the march past. Singapore's first president, Yusof Ishak, reviewed the parade on the City Hall steps.

The parade also wended through Chinatown and other parts of the city.

3. First parade by Singapore's army

It was the first time six contingents of the People's Defence Force went on public parade. This was before national service was instituted, so many of the soldiers were volunteers.

Four ministers donned uniforms and marched with the People's Defence Force. They were then Minister for Labour Jek Yeun Thong, Minister for Education Ong Pang Boon, Minister for Culture and Social Affairs Othman Wok and Minister of State for Defence Wee Toon Boon.

4. Failed fireworks in the daytime

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce presented a "daylight fireworks display" on the Padang. This turned out to be a "minor flop after 10 successive shots which filled the sky with little State flags", said a Straits Times article on Aug 10, 1966. The rest of the fireworks, which were supposed to blossom into lions, dragons and mythical creatures, were not fired after the first three failed to ignite.

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