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Celebrating the Fourth of July in Singapore

The Fourth of July Celebration has been a family affair celebrated by American Assocaiton of Singapore since the late 1940s. In those days, AAS members came together with their wives and children to celebrate with a game of baseball at the Thompson Road polo ground.

Fourth of July celebrations at the Polo Club, 1959

By 1967, Independence Day was celebrated with the traditional picnic at Singapore American School. The usual games, train ride, carnival booths, hot dogs and fireworks were on offer.

Think about what the scene was in Singapore back in 1967. That year was a pivotal juncture in its history, with the country having gained independence from Malaysia just two years earlier in 1965.

Economically, Singapore was striving to establish itself as a regional hub despite its lack of natural resources. The government under the guidance of the Economic Development Board (EDB) embarked on an ambitious industrialization program, attracting foreign investments and transforming the nation into a manufacturing powerhouse.Tthe 1960s marked a formative period for American business involvement in Singapore. While not yet as extensive as in later decades, American companies began to establish a presence in various sectors, contributing to Singapore's economic development and laying the foundation for deeper economic ties and partnerships in the years to come.

So it was pretty remarkable that AAS and SAS decided to host a massive Fourth of July picnic starting a tradition that has carried on til today!

Cover of Singapore American newspaper from 1976.

Continuing Tradition

And through the years, we've kept going and going – we're like the Energizer Bunny! Today, 2,000-5,000 people attend each year making it the largest celebration of American culture in the country. We still have many of the same carnival games as yesteryear along with professional entertainers, the US Navy Color Guard, food stalls, bouncy castles and more.

AAS marked our 100th birthday in a big way in 2017. Everything was bigger and better that year, including the Fourth of July. What a celebration!

2017 celebrations at SAS

The event hasn't been at SAS since pre-Covid. First off, there was Covid so in 2021, we held a virtual Fourth of July, delivering party kits to our members who wanted to participate. The American Club pitched in with delicious picnic hampers. For an hour, we played games together online. It wasn't the norm, but we were all just excited to be together – even if that meant virtually.

Virtual Fourth of July

The next year, we held the event at the Marina Barrage. The government told us three weeks prior that we could have a Fourth, but with very tight restrictions on numbers. So we held a magical, old-fashioned Fourth of July picnic complete with lawn games, music, the US Navy Color Guard and fireworks (courtesy National Day rehearsals!) This event also gave birth to our now insanely popular Watermelon Eating Contest. Check out the images from that year.

Fourth of July at the Marina Barrage in 2022

Last year, we held the event under the Bay Bridge as the SAS field was under construction. The number of attendees swelled to 2,000 people again. It was fun to see the crowd enjoying the food (look at these guys duking it out for a footlong hog dog!) as well as all the games, bouncy castles and music.

Eating at the 2023 event

But suffice it to say, we are pumped to be back home at SAS this year!

Long Time Partners

Singapore American School has been our Title Sponsor and with that has come some long-time support from the school. Isaac Benjamin is retiring this year. As the head of security at the school, he has helped overganize 21 Fourth of July events. He knows everything there is to know about the Fourth and we've been soaking up all that info this year. We wish him the very best luck in his next chapter!

Some of our other partners have been involved for a long time, too, like Allied and Raffles Hospital. The American Club has been helping out with catering for longer than anybody can remember. Smokey's BBQ has been dishing up their fan-favorite BBQ for at least ten years. Mr. Tan from Hoe Brothers Catering has been serving up delicious meals for 28 years himself! Wow! Think about where you were 28 years ago.

All to say, this event is steeped in rich tradition, but we also continue to grow and add new things every year.

We can't wait to see you on June 29th! Grab everybody you know and come celebrate!

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