This article was first published on March 5, 2015, and updated on July 18, 2017
SINGAPORE – This year’s National Day Parade (NDP) funpacks will be one of the lightest in parade history, weighing a compact 1.5kg compared to the usual 2kg like those in past years.
But it will still be packed with plenty of goodies, including interactive items such as a mini Singapore flag that can also be used as a flashing LED light.
Besides the perennial crowd favourites like discount coupons, there will also be a commemorative NS50 keychain, a luggage tag and a detachable pouch.
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Here is a look at seven facts about funpacks, which have long since become a National Day Parade staple.
1. The funpack giveaway started in 1991 with bare essentials
The giveaway started in 1991 with more than 70,000 bags distributed during celebrations at the National Stadium. The following year, it was extended to parade preview spectators. It was called a plain old goodie bag then.
The original idea of the funpack was purely functional – a survival kit which came with essentials like drinks and snacks to help spectators cope with the hot and humid weather.
2. Face paint kits were included for the first time in 1997
In 1997, water-soluble face paint kits were included in the goodie bags for the first time. There were two kinds: one with yellow, black and red paints, the other with white, blue and green.
Captain Lo Weng Wah, the assistant secretary of the NDP’ 97 secretariat, told The Straits Times that the face paint was a good way of keeping Singaporean entertained, and getting them “into the mood”.
Cosmoprof, known for its theatrical make-up, sponsored 90,000 kits costing more than $250,000.
3. By 2007, the number of items grew to 28
Some of the items included a hand-held fan fitted with LED lights on its blades. When switched on, it showed messages like “Happy birthday Singapore” and “NDP @ Marina Bay”.
The 2007 goodie bag also contained the “Clappastar”, a unique item designed by a pair of Nanyang Polytechnic students. It was shaped like a star and combined a torchlight and a clapper, allowing the spectators to contribute to both the light and sound aspects of the parade.
4. The 2009 funpack seemed to be most popular
Funpacks, have through the years, have drawn flak for their design or content (or lack thereof).
But the 2009 edition, which came in the form of a messenger bag for the first time, got the thumbs up from Singaporeans. The waterproof bags can also be converted into tote bags. The bags came in eight colours: pink, purple, yellow, orange, green, light green, blue and light blue.
5. The 2011 funpack spawned a song that was later dropped
In July that year, a video clip of a tacky cover version of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance performed during one of the NDP rehearsals was posted online. The modified lyrics featured items in the NDP goodie bag – Newater, biscuits and kopi-o.
NDP creative director for that parade, Ms Beatrice Chia-Richmond, came up with the idea. It was dropped as the team did not seek the rights to modify the lyrics. Many spectators were disappointed as they had wanted to see it performed, even though it hit the wrong note with them.
6. Funpack for all Singaporeans, even at home
To celebrate SG50, the government announced that every Singaporean and permanent resident household – about 1.2 million in all – would receive a funpack.
Designed by 15 students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central’s School of Design and Media, along with their lecturers and the NDP creative team, each pack came with items such as light sticks, button badges with artwork from the public, colourful visor hats and an LED bracelet that blinks to the tempo of the music.
The total cost? $10 million, part of which was covered by corporate sponsorships.
7. Funpacks geared for the future
“Futuristic” funpacks that leveraged on technology took centrestage for the 2016 edition.
Among the highlights of the 18-item bag were an LED wristband that could be wirelessly synchronised with the show’s lights and sounds, as well as a magazine embedded with digital content.
With the use of an app on their mobile devices, parade goers could access content such as images and videos via augmented reality, such as view a 3D time-lapse video of the National Stadium’s evolution.