The park contains over 1,000 statues and 150 giant dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese folklore, legends, history, and illustrating various aspects of Confucianism. These include The Laughing Buddha, The Goddess of Mercy, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and most famously The Ten Courts of Hell, a depiction of a gruesome underworld of tortures and torments set in the mouth of a 60-meter-long dragon.
The park, originally called "Tiger Balm Gardens", was constructed in 1937 by the brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the developers of Tiger Balm, as a venue for teaching traditional Chinese values. The Aw family eventually sold the Gardens to the Singapore Tourism Board in 1979.
The park was renamed Haw Par Villa in 1985 and re-opened in 1990, when it was converted into an amusement park and promoted with the name "Dragon World", with many of the statues and scenes replaced with fairground rides. However this new incarnation proved unpopular when attendances started to decline and Fraser and Neave, which had 75% stake in the theme park, started seeing losses. More recently many of the old features have been replaced, such as the dragon ride. Some of the statues have also been moved to the Chinese Gardens.
Entry to the park has been free since 1996, while previously a S$16 entrance fee was charged and a Chinese Heritage Centre has been constructed within its grounds.
The park is in a run down state. Many of the water ponds are covered with algae.
The Chingay Parade is an annual street parade held in Singapore as part of Chinese New Year festivities. The term Chingay itself originated in Southeast Asia, particularly in Penang, Malaysia, which is a phonetic equivalent of the Chinese words "妆艺", which means "a decorated miniature stage" or float. Today, the parade has evolved into a massive multi-cultural and international event telecast live on television every year.
The Chingay Parade traces its origins to a float decorating competition held in Penang in 1905. This practice of float decoration spread to the rest of Malaya by the 1960s, and eventually became associated with the Chinese New Year.
On 4 February 1973, the first Chingay parade was held in Singapore, partly as a result of the ban on firecrackers a year earlier in 1972 as a result of fire hazards. This ban was viewed unfavourably despite the safety issues involved. Some people felt that the ban would result in a much dampened festival mood for the Chinese New Year period. To address this issue, the People's Association and the Singapore National Pugilistic Association jointly organised a street parade from Jalan Besar to Outram Park featuring the signature floats, acrobatic acts, lion and dragon dances, stilt walkers, and the like, to bring back some cheer to the general public.
The largely Chinese parade became a multi-cultural one from 1977 when Malay and Indian groups started joining in the performances, which was to mark a major precedent in the overall flavour of the parade into one which has become largely multi-cultural in character, despite the continued presence of traditional Chinese acts such as lion dances and stilt walkers till this day.
In 1985, the parade marched down Orchard Road for the first time, a move which was to prevail for much of the parade's subsequent history. Although the change could be attributed to the desire of organisers in bringing it closer to tourists along the major tourist belt and for ease of organisation on a relatively long and straight stretch of road, it also further signified the increasingly desinicized character of the parade. This is further evidenced when in 1987, an international flavour was added to the parade when a group from Japan participated for the first time with their float sponsored by The Straits Times.
The Chingay Parade became an evening-to-night parade in 1990, changing the overall feel of the parade towards one in which lights and pyrotechnics dominate. In 2000, the parade was shifted out of Orchard Road to the Civic District centering at City Hall, an area steep in Singaporean history and culture. Construction works at the City Hall area resulted in the parade marching through the streets of the Chinatown district for the first time. Faced with limited space for spectator stands and a much more complicated and winding route in these locations, however, the parade moved back to Orchard Road in 2004 along with an effort to introduce audience participation and involvement in the traditionally passive parade. Firecrackers were let off for the first time in the parade that year. Despite the authorities allowing the firecrackers to be let off under some safety procedures, it was decided that the Chingay be preserved. In 2008, the parade was once again held at City Hall, with the route lasting from the City Hall building to The Esplanade. For the 2009 parade, it was centralised around parliament house with the performers going around the Padang. That year was the also the first year that the telecast on television was delayed by one day.
Post-parade street parties have been held for the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 editions of the parade.
Those cards are from Relie.From a private swap.Thank you,Relie:)