Celebrating a Very Different National Day 2020

A Chinook helicopter carrying the National Flag flies around the Singapore heartlands, flanked by two Apache helicopters.

The year 2020 shall go down in history as the year of COVID-19. With the worldwide spread of COVID-19, many major activities, including the Tokyo Olympics has been cancelled. Earlier in the year, I had thought that there won’t be a National Day Parade this year as well, but the organising committee had other plans.

Instead of holding the parade at a centralised location like the Marina Bay Floating Platform, they have decentralised several of the activities to the heartlands. Only a bare minimum ceremonial parade was held at the Padang, attended by no more than 150 people.

Another shot of the Chinook + Apache helicopters carrying the National Flag, flying above the HDB flats.

The National Flag flypast, and the salute by F15SGs has also been modified such that they fly around the island, so that more people can see them. The F15SG flypast has also been specially arranged to fly past a couple of hospitals to pay tribute to the healthcare workers who has worked tirelessly to manage the COVID-19 situation.

Roar of Unity—a formation of five F15SGs in a V-formation flying around the island. This was taken during a rehearsal.

One of the crowd favourites, the Red Lions parachuting, has been decentralised to two heartland locations—Sengkang and Jurong East. I did not take any photos, as one, they are too far away, and two, I didn’t want to squeeze with the crowds, especially in the situation that we are in currently.

However, I was delighted to find out that the mobile column will be passing by on the street right in front of the flat that I am living in, giving me an opportunity to shoot it from the above without having to squeeze with the crowds.

The beginning of the mobile column.
Crew of a Leopard 2SG tank waves to the audiences along the side of the road.

No National Day Parade is complete without fireworks. This year, the organising committee has decided to spread out the fireworks to TEN different locations, including the heartlands. Trouble was, to avoid people crowding, they have not disclosed the exact location where the fireworks will be set off. It was only near the actual day, and on the actual day itself that people began to discover the actual locations from the cordoned-off areas.

For the Tampines fireworks, the location turned out to be a field near the Tampines Fire Station. I could get this direction easily from my balcony. In the previous couple of years, the fireworks has been from Our Tampines Hub, so this is kind of unusual. I believe the reason was also for safe distancing measures, too.

As I prefer to shoot fireworks with some form of foreground interest, I had envisioned a shot of it with the HDB flats in the foreground, and the fireworks above.

Despite the news reports that the fireworks will be “up to 62 storeys high”, I was slightly disappointed that it was partially blocked by the very HDB flats I had intended to use as a foreground. It’s not too bad, but slightly higher and bigger would have been great. 🙂

And just like that, we had a rather unique and special National Day. Perhaps, this way of holding the distributed activities, particularly the fireworks, can be repeated in future NDPs, even if we are out of the pandemic in future.

Happy 55th Birthday, Singapore. Hope we can get out of this pandemic soon!

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