NDP 2022: A night of celebration at Singapore's first full parade since pandemic

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SINGAPORE - Twenty-five thousand people gathered at the Marina Bay floating platform to mark Singapore's 57th birthday on Tuesday (Aug 9), in a show that recognised the hardships inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic and celebrated a return to relative normalcy.

A human sea of red and white sat elbow to elbow, joining in the Kallang Wave and soaking in the rat-a-tat of rifle salutes at the first ticketed National Day Parade in three years.

About the only thing that signalled how the pandemic is not over was some spectators wearing face masks. Parade organisers had "strongly encouraged" this but it was not mandatory.

This year's parade was a world of difference from 2020 and 2021, when Covid-19 restrictions reduced the NDP to symbolic affairs watched live by only small, safe-distanced audiences.

Last year's show even had to be postponed by two weeks following a resurgence of cases in the community.

Amid the noise of yesterday's celebrations, a moment of hushed silence was for many the most poignant of the night.

At the start of the second act of the show directed by theatre veteran Adrian Pang, a single source of light emerged from the pitch-black stage.

There, standing alone, was singer-songwriter Aisyah Aziz. In a velvety voice, she sang a song of compassion: "Have you ever felt like nobody was there? Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere? Have you ever felt like you could disappear?... You can reach, reach out your hand."

The song, You Will Be Found, from American musical Dear Evan Hansen, launched a section of the show about the price exacted by the pandemic.

The theme of this year's NDP, Stronger Together Majulah, was chosen for the need to stick together during these tough times. It is embodied in the logo of two figures holding hands to build a caring and inclusive society.

The celebrations at the floating platform kicked off at about 5.30pm, with hosts Joakim Gomez, Sonia Chew, Siti Khalijah and Rishi Budhrani urging the crowd to wave their lights and flags and do the Kallang Roar.

Among those soaking in the atmosphere was homemaker Normala Ahmad, 60. "I miss gathering and celebrating like this," she said. "Let's hope there are no more pandemics."

Teacher Ravindran Rajasekeran, 37, who was also watching at the platform, said: "During the pandemic, a lot of normal things we took for granted were restricted. It's good to see the...

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