Padang, venue of the first and 50th NDPs

SG50 National Day Parade 2015 at the Padang.
SG50 National Day Parade 2015 at the Padang. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Singapore celebrated its first birthday in front of City Hall on Aug 9, 1966, when more than 20,000 people came together for a thunderous rendition of Majulah Singapura.

Contingents of parade participants lined up on the Padang in their now-vintage uniforms to mark the momentous occasion.

In the five decades since, Singaporeans have come together every year, rain or shine, on that date for the nation's birthday bash.

March-pasts, military vehicle displays, mass performances and fireworks are perennial crowd-pleasers that add to the pomp and pageantry of each celebration.

The event has been held at the Padang, the old National Stadium and, in the past decade, at The Float @ Marina Bay.

That allowed the parade organisers to take advantage of the water element that the venue afforded, with naval displays in Marina Bay.

This year's Golden Jubilee edition makes a return to the site where the very first NDP was held - at the Padang in front of City Hall.

It featured a vintage parade segment, where pioneers marched in their old-fashioned uniforms, from policemen in their khaki shorts to firemen in their now-defunct helmets and nurses in their vintage white caps.

More than 26,000 spectators watched the SG50 parade at the Padang, while another 25,000 caught the action at the floating platform.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Padang, venue of the first and 50th NDPs'. Print Edition | Subscribe