Singapore celebrates its 51st National Day today. The National Day Parade this year returns to the National Stadium, ten years after the last time it was held at this venue. I was recently listening to some trivia, and thought the history around the National Day Parade venues and the use of the National Stadium is quite interesting.
As you might know, Singapore’s first National Day Parade was held at the Padang in 1966. The Padang continued to be the venue for the next eight years, until 1974. In 1975, National Day celebration was decentralised. It was decentralised in alternate years until 1983.
The first National Day Parade held at the original National Stadium was in 1976. In those early years, the National Stadium wasn’t really used all that often. The next time the National Stadium was used in 1980, then 1986. Those years later, the National Stadium was used more frequently. I suppose those of us who were in our schooling years during that period would thus remember much more fondly the use of the National Stadium for National Day Parades. In total, National Day Parades were held at the National Stadium 17 times before this year.
The return to the National Stadium might bring back memories for some people.
But I think over the last nine years, Singaporeans have gotten quite used to and perhaps like the Marina Bay Floating Platform better. With several preview shows for this year’s National Day Parade behind us, we’re hearing feedback that the new National Stadium is in fact not quite the best venue. Audiences don’t get as good a view of the performances. The retractable roof also blocks the view of the fly-past and outdoor fireworks, which are some of the highlights of the show. The Red Lion’s parachute jumps, too, have to be forgone due to the site constraints.
So now the question, was it worthwhile to rebuild the National Stadium? Perhaps the site was really old and needed some major renovations. Maybe the more important question is if it is worthwhile to return to the National Stadium?
The way I see it, the Marina Bay Floating Platform is a more suitable site, and perhaps also the most cost effective, for holding the annual parade and related celebrations. Perhaps what needs to be done is for the Marina Bay Floating Platform to be expanded so that they can take bigger audiences.
If you’re going to be catching the National Day Parade from home, don’t forget to check out the YouTube 360° Live feed, the first for the parade, this year.