SINGAPORE - The audience at the Padang were high in spirits when the National Day Parade kicked off the show segment.
Songs took centrestage during the half-an-hour, as Singaporeans young and old sang along to local classics including Chan Mali Chan and Munneru Valiba. Some also relived the catchy theme songs of old local television shows such as English sitcom Under One Roof and Mandarin variety sketch show Gao Xiao Xing Dong.
The jubilee mood was given a boost when Mandopop star Stefanie Sun, 37, appeared to sing a medley of two NDP songs, We Will Get There (2002) and One United People (2003).
Singaporean singer-songwriter Corrinne May, 42, also took the spotlight with her own composition, the 2010 NDP theme song, Song For Singapore.
Pop star JJ Lin, 34, roused the audience with this year's theme song Our Singapore, composed by Dick Lee.
A light drizzle did not dampen spirits as the crowd joined in the singing.
The songs were Madam Wong Mui Mui's favourite part of the show. The 73-year-old retired tea lady said: "I like the song 'Home' because the words are very meaningful, and I enjoyed singing and dancing along to all the music."
Among the various acts were some 600 primary school pupils dressed up as stickmen in costumes that resemble space outfits. Their costumes lit with neon LED colours, was met with amazed gasps from the audience every time the colours changed from red to blue to green with a touch of a button.
Mr Philip Choo, 55, a planning manager, said of the show: "It was very interesting, and shows what we have achieved for the past 50 years - from nothing, to what we are now."
His favourite part was the last segment, with the LED troopers. "As it shows what is Singapore's next step, and what our next step forward is," he added.
Some 850 performers from the Singapore Soka Association also twirled around in their long dresses, peeling off layers to reveal black, red and white colours, and forming stunning mass displays of the words - unity, progress, success and onward - in the nation's four official languages.
In a showcase of the Singaporean identity, more than 500 performers from the People's Association also incorporated 12 large props including a 3.5m-tall ice kachang float and Changi Airport into their lively dance routine.
Among the audience were Mrs Tamar Nursella and Mrs Michal Razin, both Israelis in their late 60s. "Singapore is our second home," they said . This year's parade is special for Mrs Nursella who has lived in Singapore for 13 years. The retired teacher who now is a volunteer museum guide, attended the parade back in 1990, the same year she moved from Israel. "I love the people and the food here. Dim sum and nasi goreng are the best!"
The Esplanade's Outdoor Stage area, meanwhile, filled to the brim for the fireworks display - Singapore's biggest and grandest ever.