Young and old, they can't wait
There were people dancing and laughing on the streets under the night sky along Orchard Road, as the rhythmic thump of music filled the air.
And it wasn't a scene at a concert or music festival, but the One Team Singapore Rally at Orchard Road's Pedestrian Night, as organisers of the South-east Asia (SEA) Games kicked off their charge to woo fans to come out in force for the event, which will be held here from June 5 to 16.
Transforming the Republic's premier shopping boulevard into a sea of red, an estimated 40,000 turned up to support Team Singapore, as the countdown to the 28th Games reached the three-month mark.
In the thick of the crowd was Andrew Tan, who was a keen spectator at each of the three previous editions when Singapore hosted the biennial multi-sport extravaganza in 1973, 1983 and 1993.
Speaking to The New Paper, the 55-year-old said: "I was 13 when I attended my first SEAP (then called the South-east Asia Peninsular) Games, and it was so different back then.
"Even for the last home Games in 1993, the build-up was not as fantastic as it's been for this year's edition.
"Now, there's so much going on, and it's very good that it coincides with the 50th year of independence of our country, so you can understand why the authorities are going all out to mark the occasion."
Already, Singaporeans are excited by the prospect of watching not only the nation's best, but also the region's finest athletes, in action.
Some, like 21-year-old Emmanuel Phua, have already planned out their Games schedule.
"I'm really excited over the SEA Games, I wasn't even born the last time the country hosted it," said Phua.
"I've made it a priority to catch a few sports, but at the top of my list are the men's marathon and swimming events."
With plenty of focus on the football team, who are on a quest to capture a first-ever gold, it did not come as a surprise that many fans are looking forward to spur Aide Iskandar's Under-23s on.
"I'm definitely going to watch the footballers in action," said 19-year-old Natasha Hadi Chua.
"There's no better time for Aide and the boys to get a first gold medal than now, with it being a home SEA Games and especially as it is Singapore's 50th birthday."
But away from all the impending sporting action, lie the fans.
Phua feels that the Games will be much more than a sporting event.
"With world-class infrastructure like the Sports Hub, I think it's important that we show the region, and possibly the world, that we do have a sporting culture," he said.
"We need to rise up to the occasion and support our athletes, be there for them and let them know that their efforts don't go to waste."
Tan agreed, saying: "It's really beautiful to see all the enthusiasm tonight, but it's important to make sure that it carries right through to the Games, and beyond.
"I spent almost every day at Kallang back in '73, '83 and '93, and you can bet I'm going to do the same again."