When the PM calls, fall in for the Purple Parade
PM Lee's Facebook post in 2013 about being 'ambushed' in Parliament to take a picture with a purple frame helped raise awareness of the Purple Parade, which supports the inclusion of people with special needs
WHAT: The Purple Parade 2016
WHEN: Saturday, 3pm - 7pm
WHERE: Suntec City
In 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was "ambushed" in Parliament and the weapon of choice was a purple frame.
The person who staged the ambush, Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District, got Mr Lee to take a photo using the frame.
The purpose? To get him to support the inaugural Purple Parade.
The annual event, now in its fourth year, is part of a movement that supports the inclusion of people with special needs and celebrates their abilities.
Mr Lee posted about the incident on Facebook in November 2013 and asked Singaporeans to attend the parade. It marked the start of his involvement.
Last year, he and his wife, Madam Ho Ching, also joined in the fun and were part of the record breaking contingency for the Largest Gathering of People in Purple Glasses.
This year, he has appeared in a Purple Parade video to call for support for the special needs community.
When The New Paper asked what gave her the courage to ambush Mr Lee, Ms Phua, who is also the adviser to The Purple Parade committee, said: "It was not courage.
"It was a conviction, supported by a strong belief in our special needs community that everyone deserves equal access to opportunities in life.
"It also helps that we know our PM has always been supportive of this special community. It was declared on the day he was inaugurated as PM." This year, the parade will move from its usual grounds at Hong Lim Park to the external grounds of Suntec City.
Some of the highlights include the largest contingent marchpast, with 2,500 participants from 54 organisations forming 46 contingent groups in a mass display.
And this year, in support of the parade, 19 buildings and bridges will be lighting up in purple from Oct 29 to Nov 5.
Items like purple sushi and purple Pokemon balloon sculptures will be available at the parade.
This year, they will be attempting to break the record for the most number of people wearing purple hats.
The time and energy it has taken to organise this parade is no mean feat.
Ms Phua said: "The working committee, which comprises close to 100 people, started planning for the parade early this year.
"On top of that, more than 500 volunteers were involved in the pre-event campaign and another 500 will be involved at the event day itself."
She is also very grateful for Mr Lee's shoutout to the public.
She said: "Many Singaporeans may want to support this meaningful cause, but are not aware of it. PM's online presence will no doubt help to increase awareness among Singaporeans about this parade."
Local TV actress Eelyn Kok, 37, will be making an appearance at the parade this year.
She told TNP that she had been invited by Ms Phua and was excited about being at the event.
She said: "The Purple Parade first caught my eye last year, when news of the MRT cabins being decorated to launch awareness was in the papers.
"The crowd that turned up last year was huge, so we are expecting the crowd this year to be tremendous."
When asked what she will be looking forward to at this year's parade, she said: "The Purple Parade broke the Singapore Book of Records last yearand I missed it. So I hope I can be a part of this year's group in breaking the record for the 'Largest Gathering of People with Purple Parade Hats'."
Several young individuals are also supporting this event.
A participant of a volunteer programme titled One Child One Skill, NUS student Lim Yan Xuan, 20, told TNP that she and her partner decided to take along a child with autism, whom they had guided, to the parade last year.
She said: "It was an extremely heartwarming experience for me.
"The atmosphere was really lively and it was lovely to see all the kids participating in all the activities, where they were not viewed differently."
Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Choo Yong Hao will be a first-timer for the parade.
The 18-year-old, who has been reading up on the parade, told TNP: "I do not have many chances to interact with people with special needs, so this would serve as a great opportunity for me to better understand them."
It was an extremely heartwarming experience for me.
- NUS student Lim Yan Xuan, 20, a participant last year