Thousands throng Penang's Merdeka Day parade

Soldiers from the Royal Malay Regiment (RAMD) hoist Mohd Aqif Hazim, 5, during the state-level National Day celebrations at Esplanade, George Town, Aug 31, 2017. — Sunpix by Masry Che Ani
Penang Governor Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas, his consort Toh Puan Majimor Shariff, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and state excos witness the National Day parade at Esplanade, George Town on Aug 31, 2017. — Sunpix by Masry Che Ani
Indian cultural dance performers hoist the Jalur Gemilang during the state-level National Day parade at Esplanade, George Town, Aug 31, 2017. — Sunpix by Masry Che Ani
Locals and tourists alike attend the state-level National Day parade at the Esplanade in George Town on Aug 31, 2017. — Sunpix by Masry Che Ani

GEORGE TOWN: The popular Esplanade came alive as thousands thronged the state-level National Day celebrations to witness a colourful and spirited parade in conjunction with the nation's Independence Day.

From as early as 7am, locals and tourists alike gathered along Lebuh Light and the surrounding area as they waited for the VIPs to arrive at the main stage.

The ceremony began with the arrival of Penang Governor Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas when he inspected the guards of honour at the start of the celebration.

Themed "Negaraku Sehati Sejiwa" the parade saw a total of 88 contingents comprising 5,700 people from various government agencies, uniformed bodies, non-governmental organisations, security and armed forces.

Thirteen motorcade contingents made up of about 200 participants such as ambulances, fire engines, superbikes and military vehicles also brought much joy to the parade which lasted for an hour.

The participants marched before Abdul Rahman, his consort Toh Puan Majimor Shariff, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, his wife Betty Chew, state exco members and department heads who stood on a stage erected opposite the Great Eastern building at Lebuh Light.

Cultural dances performances and the "silat tempur" performances by the Royal Malay Regiment also added excitement to the celebrations.

Factory worker Ahmad Salim, 45, said the national day parade is an annual programme for his family.

He said every year since 2000, without fail, he would bring his family to the parade to expose his children to what Merdeka is all about.

He said he wanted to teach his children the meaning of independence and for them to feel proud of their country.

"National Day is a significant day for our country, it should be embraced by all of us, bringing my family to this event will at least teach them the meaning of our independence," he said.