Exactly four years ago, I participated in Chingay as a volunteer; and now, attending as a member of the audience. The feeling is definitely different. However, my impression of Asia’s grandest float parade still remains the same. This year is the second year in which Chingay was held at the F1 pit building.
Sad to say, Chingay 2011 wasn’t as good as expected. Firstly, perhaps it was due to the rain before the parade. Muddy paths were everywhere and the audiences’ spirits were dampened by the downpour. Many ended up with nice and pretty looking, but muddy shoes. Road signs were also not very specific, but kudos to the friendly ushers, I managed to find my way to my seat. Secondly, I don’t know if they were the official photographers, but there were a whole bunch of cameraman just before the front row audience with their cameras on standby, completely ignoring the audience behind them. My seat was along the isle, and sometimes they just brushed pass me without saying sorry. It was really annoying at times, but well, didn’t wanna kick a big fuss out of it. Enough of rant, let’s talk about the main show.
The show started off with the appearance of 50 Harley Davidson motorcycles and vintage cars together with loud firecrackers and bright yet smoky sparkles. There was also Star Wars characters, God of Fortune and flying helium balloon dragons which built up the hype. Then came our Prime Minister Lee and his wife and the crowd went into frenzy. After which, there was also a fire party, which included a fire dragon float. The parade continued with performers from various ethnic groups, organisations, schools, GRCs, and not to forget the largest-ever contingent of Malay and Indian participants in which 1200 Malays and 300 Indians were involved. There were even performers from other countries such as Denmark, Mexico, Taiwan and Sri Lanka. It was really a heart-warming experience to see the 8000 performers putting in their best to make Chingay successful.
The parade ended off with a dazzling finale where all performers and participant were involved in the passing of the lamp (传灯). This is actually a custom back in the olden days of China where lighted candles were lit and passed on, symbolising the continuation of life. But of course, due to fire hazard issues, we were given a LED torch and then led by the People Association Youth Movement and elderlies from various GRCs, we successfully passed the lamp on. We also witnessed the Chinese writings of passing of the lamp by our very own President Nathan. The parade ended after the releasing of a lantern-wrapped-helium-balloon by PM Lee, and subsequently the sky was lit up by a fireworks display.
Frankly speaking, I felt that this year’s Chingay was a successful one but there are room for improvements. Nevertheless, It was really one of the most fun and memorable event that I have ever attended. If given the chance, I really hope to have the free pass, where I could go down into the parade itself. I went there with a heart full of enthusiasm and I came back with an ecstatic mind and a whole lot of pictures. So, enjoy the pictures and pardon the quality.
Text and photos by Tan Junye