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The American Association of Singapore hosted (along with a slew of corporate sponsors) the Fourth of July celebration here in Singapore. It was held at the beyond inexplicably named “Terror Club” (neither Google nor Wikipedia seems to have an answer as to the name). The Terror Club is run by the US Navy as a place of recreation for US Naval personnel and their families (although according to Wikimapia, other Naval personnel and their families are also welcome). I believe there is a Navy Base somewhere nearby.
It was a family themed event from 4pm until 10pm with fireworks at 8pm (remember, we’re on the equator, so we literally have 12 hours of daylight and 12 of darkness every day). Elanor woke up at 4ish, so we didn’t get there until 5ish. Which was fine because it was raining lightly and everyone was hiding in the various tents anyways. There were lots of kids activities like games, bouncy houses, and a coloring contest but she was a little young for them. We found a way to keep her happy in the stroller, though….she got her first cone of cotton candy.
We explored the food tent (because it was bit and covered and then enjoyed pushing the stroller through the mud that was forming between one side and the other of the field. We saw a photo booth with cut-outs of political and famous figures (Obama and Robert Pattinson from Twilight were among them), a dunk tank (which seemed rendundant, given the rain) a fortune telling booth where we had Elanor’s fortune picked by a parrot.
The parrot moved so fast Im lucky I got any picture at all, much less this slightly blurry one.
Apparently she is like a tree without food or sunshine right now but will flower later. And her patron goddess is Durga (who redeems situations that have been FUBAR’d–I hope that’s not a commentary on my parenting skills…or apparently lack thereof!)
Next we went to the political tents, where we talked to some nice folks from the American Embassy about confirming that we were correctly registered to vote back home. They had us fill out a new form just to be sure. We learned that there’s new legislation that means we’ll need to register every year that we’re abroad. We also hooked up with Democrats abroad and studiously ignored the Republicans Abroad as best we could. The Navy was selling glow sticks so we bought a few (although later, a naval guy decided E was a cutie and just gave us two more).
There was a moving company there, and they gave E a balloon and us a giant piece of cardboard to sit on. We carried it around, waiting until the last second to put it down that it would keep us dry and not turn into a giant piece of mushy paper like some of the cardboard we saw.
There was live music played on the main stage.
We headed back to take refuge in the food tent once it became clear that there were no seats to be found in the eating tent connected to it. We found an area with a bunch of other strollers and just camped out.
While we were camped out, I kept glancing over at the eating tent, keeping an eye out for seats. I saw someone that I thought I might know, but didn’t want to be a dumbass if it wasn’t. Finally I caught her trying to get MY attention, so I dashed over. It was K, a lovely mom I’d met, and who recommended both our realtor and the maid service we’d ended up using! Some seats opened up at her table, so Ravi (and E & B once they were done eating) came over. Ravi and I got to meet K’s husband, who is also in the Finance world, so that gave the guys something to talk about. I was really glad as R doesn’t get the chance to socialize much over here, much less with Americans. There was another couple at our table, and the mom had gone to Berklee School of Music in Boston, so we tried to chat as best we could over the buzz in the tent and the music from the stage. We exchanged numbers so hopefully we’ll get together soon…and her son isn’t much older than E (most of the moms I know have kids about 6 months older than E…which is good so that she has to work to keep up with them, and she can learn from them…and they can work to keep up with Miss Running&Jumping).
Unless you’ve lived abroad, it’s difficult to understand how excited you become at the chance to hang out with other (fill in your nationality here)…in our case, obviously, Americans. While American tv is exported as is music, it still doesn’t create a shared cultural language the way growing up in the US does. For example, with B, my helper, I have to explain the school system, about snow, what my life was like back in the US (which has a lot to do with the economic realities of growing up in the US vs the Phillippinnes). It’s nice to hang out with people who give their kids cheetos and mac n cheese. Who are excited it’s the 4th (3rd, really) of July instead of just another day. Who call it soccer, not football. Who know who the Red Sox are. To some extent it’s just easier to hang out with Americans because it’s not a constant struggle to understand/educate. (This is not to say we don’t want friends who aren’t American–we do! It’s just that it’s really nice to stop being a cultural ambassador and just hang out for a little while).
Around 7:30, we stepped out onto the field and chose our viewing spot. We put down the cardboard and our blanket over it. We kept E in the stroller as we didn’t want her running around just yet. And soon after the drizzley rain stopped or stopped enough that we didn’t pay attention anymore.
The festivities kicked off with the Singing of the Singapore and American National Anthems (the SG national anthem is in Malay so I linked to a video with lyrics in English…and then for my non-American friends, I did the same for the US anthem). The local girl scout troop was on stage doing their best to sing along to both. The crowd, for the record hummed or mumbled to the SG anthem. They started out strong with the American anthem, got a little fuzzy around the middle and then ended strong.
They introduced the members of the military holding the various branches flags. Finally they introduced the new American Ambassador to Singapore, David Adelman, who apparently arrived right around when we did. Then we got down to business…Fireworks!
I wasn’t sure how the fireworks would go over with Ella. I wasn’t concerned she’d be scared, more what her level of interest would be. Last year, we were on the National Mall in Washington, DC. E had gotten a light up ball from the Smithsonian and spent the entire fireworks FAR more interested in that then the giant explosions of light in the sky.
This year, Elanor was TRANSFIXED. I looked over and she was staring, open mouthed at the fireworks. She clapped for them when other people clapped but mostly she just stared in amazement. I have rarely seen her so still.
While they weren’t the most impressive fireworks either Ravi or I had ever seen, they certainly were the closest. We were warned about keeping an eye out for ash because it could burn. They were set off from the hill across the street and went off RIGHT overhead. It was impressive.
When the fireworks ended a naval band based out of Hawaii came onstage and said they’d be performing until 10 (it was like 8:30 at that point). There was a huge crush of people leaving and we realized the futility of trying to get a cab in that crush. So we decided to let Ella run free. She immediately picked up on the band and began dancing.
She didn’t stop for almost an hour. We finally called an end to it when she began yawning. Which didn’t go over well with the toddler, for the record. Of course that she was fighting sleep in the cab proved our point…
We got home around 10, and put her straight to bed with next to no protestation.
Up for grabs…this lovely tote bag purchased from the American Embassy Booth.
To enter…just comment! Elanor will pick a comment number out of a hat next weekend and I’ll mail it off to the winner. (if you’re not interested, please still comment but let me know). If I need your address, I’ll email you for it.