More than a goodie bag: 7 facts about National Day Parade funpacks

This National Day Parade funpack for 2019 along with its contents, including snacks, mineral water, a souvenir magazine and a discount booklet. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
The contents of the funpack at the National Day Parade 2017, which will be one of the lightest in parade history. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
The contents of the National Day funpack in 2014. PHOTO: ST FILE
The contents of the National Day funpack in 2012. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
The contents of the National Day funpack in 2011. PHOTO: ST FILE
The contents of the National Day funpack in 2010. PHOTO: ST FILE
The contents of the National Day funpack in 2008. PHOTO: ST FILE
The contents of the National Day funpack in 2005. PHOTO: ST FILE

This article was first published on March 5, 2015, and updated on June 20, 2019

SINGAPORE - This year's National Day Parade (NDP) funpacks are designed with sustainability in mind, in line with Singapore's zero-waste campaign for 2019.

They include reusable items such as bamboo straws which double up as clappers and a 750ml water bottle with a hands-free spout. Unused ponchos will also be collected at the end of each NDP rehearsal and preview so that they can be given out at the next one.

This year's bags also feature a water-resistant lining, and organisers hope that they will be used as emergency ready bags.

Here are seven facts about funpacks, which have long since become a NDP staple.

1. The funpack giveaway started in 1991 with bare essentials

The giveaway started in 1991 with more than 70,000 bags distributed during celebrations at the National Stadium. The following year, it was extended to parade preview spectators. It was called a plain old goodie bag then.

The original idea of the funpack was purely functional - a survival kit which came with essentials like drinks and snacks to help spectators cope with the hot and humid weather.

National Day Parade 1997 funpacks. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

2. Face paint kits were included for the first time in 1997

In 1997, water-soluble face paint kits were included in the goodie bags for the first time. There were two kinds: one with yellow, black and red paints, the other with white, blue and green.

National Day Parade 2002 spectators putting on the facepaint provided in the funpacks. PHOTO: ST FILE

Captain Lo Weng Wah, the assistant secretary of the NDP' 97 secretariat, told The Straits Times that the face paint was a good way of keeping Singaporean entertained, and getting them "into the mood".

Cosmoprof, known for its theatrical make-up, sponsored 90,000 kits costing more than $250,000.

3. By 2007, the number of items grew to 28

(From left) Yoel Chan, Tan Min Hui and Neo Zi Jian at the National Day Parade 2007. The boys were engrossed with trading the coloured segments from their funpacks with each other. PHOTO: ST FILE

Some of the items included a hand-held fan fitted with LED lights on its blades. When switched on, it showed messages like "Happy birthday Singapore" and "NDP @ Marina Bay".

Siti Zubaidah Raman (left) and Thiang Effie Nathania (centre) showing their creations which were selected to be part of NDP 2007 funpack. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

The 2007 goodie bag also contained the "Clappastar", a unique item designed by a pair of Nanyang Polytechnic students. It was shaped like a star and combined a torchlight and a clapper, allowing the spectators to contribute to both the light and sound aspects of the parade.

4. The 2009 funpack seemed to be most popular

Funpacks, have through the years, have drawn flak for their design or content (or lack thereof).

But the 2009 edition, which came in the form of a messenger bag for the first time, got the thumbs up from Singaporeans. The waterproof bags can also be converted into tote bags. The bags came in eight colours: pink, purple, yellow, orange, green, light green, blue and light blue.

The 2009 National Day Parade (NDP) funpacks. PHOTO: ST FILE

5. The 2011 funpack spawned a song that was later dropped

In July that year, a video clip of a tacky cover version of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance performed during one of the NDP rehearsals was posted online. The modified lyrics featured items in the NDP goodie bag - Newater, biscuits and kopi-o.

NDP creative director for that parade, Ms Beatrice Chia-Richmond, came up with the idea. It was dropped as the team did not seek the rights to modify the lyrics. Many spectators were disappointed as they had wanted to see it performed, even though it hit the wrong note with them.

6. Funpack for all Singaporeans, even at home


To celebrate SG50, the government announced that every Singaporean and permanent resident household - about 1.2 million in all - would receive a funpack.

Designed by 15 students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central's School of Design and Media, along with their lecturers and the NDP creative team, each pack came with items such as light sticks, button badges with artwork from the public, colourful visor hats and an LED bracelet that blinks to the tempo of the music.

The total cost? $10 million, part of which was covered by corporate sponsorships.

7. Funpacks geared for the future

SPH Brightcove Video
Wave your hands and light up the stadium! LED bracelets that respond to movement and a Singapore scarf are among some of the items packed into this year's National Day Parade 2016 Funpacks.

"Futuristic" funpacks that leveraged on technology took centrestage for the 2016 edition.

Among the highlights of the 18-item bag were an LED wristband that could be wirelessly synchronised with the show's lights and sounds, as well as a magazine embedded with digital content.

With the use of an app on their mobile devices, parade goers could access content such as images and videos via augmented reality, such as view a 3D time-lapse video of the National Stadium's evolution.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.