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Jun 8, 2019

Playing with the past

Exhibition of playsets invokes sense of nostalgia at bustling Raffles Place.

Report by Law Zhi Tian (Source: The New Paper, 19 March 2013)

The fondest memory of Singapore's parks for Mr Teo Hong Mong was the time he took his cousin, who once lived here but had moved back to China for more than 50 years, to revisit their childhood playground, the Singapore Botanical Gardens.

He said: "Back then, it was one of the biggest parks in Singapore and we used to play by one of the trees.

"Fifty years later when  we came back, the tree was still there!  Now in Singapore, usually after 50 years, there is nothing left to remember."

Tree Planting Campaign

On June 16, 1963, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew launched the first Tree Planting Campaign by planting a Mempat tree at Farrer Circus.

Half a century on, NParks, with help of many companies, schools and communities over the years, has planted about 1.4 million trees throughout the island.

Director of Parks Chia Seng Jiang, 52, explained the rationale of bringing the playsets of yesteryears into the city.

He said: "Once upon a time, we were all young, and parks and playgrounds gave us moments and momories that will last a liftetime.

"We want to bring them back into the city and evoke some nostalgia in a place like the Central Business District, which is why we chose Raffles Place."

Aside from the playsets, traditional games such as pick-up sticks and yo-yos were also placed around the display area for people to play with.

In addition, there were two huge blown-up photographs providing people with a glimpse of Raffles Place in the 1920s - a commercial square lined by grey buildings and rickshaws with scarcely any trees then.

Alongside "Playsets of Yesteryear", NParks also launched an iOS application, sParks, to allow people to navigate through park trails and park connectors, as well as learn more about the flora and fauna there.

Nparks plans to plant 1,963 trees by the end of the year, of which 40 per cent have alreadybeen planted by various corporate organisations, non-governmental organisations and primary schools.

For livening up Raffles Place, a place he visits once a month for recreation, Mr Teo gives NParks a thumbs-up for their efforts.

He said: "I feel like writing a sign saying 'Don't remove this park from Raffles Place!'  I've never seen it being so beautiful before."

A group of schoolchildren playing a  game of  'chapteh'.

The 72-year-old retired engineer received a pleasant surprise when he walked past Raffles Place Park.

The usual patch of grass in front of Raffles Place MRT station was jazzed up with flora and something unusual - set of park benches, swings, see-saws and merry-go-rounds.

Brought in from parks all over Singapore such as Fort Canning Park, the swings and park benches were an instant hit with the busy office crowd.

Many people slowed to snap a photo, chat with friends on benches under the shade of trees or even try out the swings - all in their office attire.

The sight of young and old on playground equipment in the middle of the business district injected a sense of lightheartedness during the bustling lunch hour.



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