Drumming up excitement at finale

The audience (right) taking part in the Placard Challenge, where they used the red and white placards in their funpacks to form the words "We Are Singapore" across the floating platform. Performers from the People's Association (far right) raising ex
The audience (above) taking part in the Placard Challenge, where they used the red and white placards in their funpacks to form the words "We Are Singapore" across the floating platform.
The audience (right) taking part in the Placard Challenge, where they used the red and white placards in their funpacks to form the words "We Are Singapore" across the floating platform. Performers from the People's Association (far right) raising ex
Performers from the People's Association (above) raising excitement levels among the crowd with their vibrant and energetic ethnic drum performance yesterday.

Last night's National Day Parade ended on a high note as some 500 energetic performers from the People's Association drummed to the beat of Singapore's 53rd birthday.

The vibrant grand finale had the crowd shaking their light bubbles - a glowing rattle that came with this year's funpack - to the sound of the drums.

Among the performers, all decked out in colourful costumes, was Ms Sylvia Ow, 26, who said rehearsals started in March. These were held once a week until June when they became twice-a-week sessions as the big day drew closer, said Ms Ow, a nurse.

She sometimes had to go for training right after a full shift at work.

Her employer, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, had been understanding and organised her duties such that she could balance her work with her parade commitments.

"I'm honoured and excited to be part of the performance. There is a good diversity of people (taking part in the performance), and the seniors had been very helpful," said Ms Ow, who likes dancing.

During the grand finale, organisers released red balls from the top of the seating area, encouraging the audience to look out for them and play with them as they descended.

The balls warmed up the spectators and got them ready to sing along to this year's National Day song, a remake of the 1987 classic We Are Singapore.

The spectators had to raise their placards at specific times during the sing-along. When raised in unison, the placards spelt out We (heart) SG.

The segment also featured a symbolic moment of unity when everyone at the platform was called on to take the pledge and sing the National Anthem.

Private tutor Gordon Lee, 32, felt that the message formed by the raised placards - We (heart) SG - was meaningful, and the activity showed how spectators can create something beautiful when they work together.

"We are all strangers here, but when we raise the placards together, we form a beautiful message for the country," he said.

"It's a reminder that we, as Singaporeans, should work together to create a beautiful picture for the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2018, with the headline 'Drumming up excitement at finale'. Print Edition | Subscribe