These are two occasions that share a common origin as a Lunar New Year celebration. Yet they can't be more different from each other:
Singapore's Chingay Parade of Colours:
- Big budget event, organized by the government to promote racial harmony and social cohesion
- Features contingents from all over Asia
- Well-organized, held partly as a result of the 1972 firecrackers ban
- Pay S$25-S$60 to get a seat on a stadium where you watch the spectacle unfold
- Can't buy a ticket? Stand behind the barricades outside the stadium to see a watered-down version
- Last 4 hours at the most. You go there, watch it and go home
Johor Bahru's Chingay "Grand March With the Deities":
- A folksy, traditional parade organized by the 5 major chinese clans in Johor Bahru
- Has been celebrated for the last 130 years, held in honor of the city's Taoist deities
- Displays a strong community spirit; this is Johor's biggest, proudest party and everyone is welcome to join the fun. You don't just watch the parade - you join it.
- Lasts until the wee hours of the morning
- Firecrackers. Lots of it
No question which one I prefer. The former has plenty of spectacle but no soul. The latter is a true community effort, with everyone coming out to show their support. I guess these parades clearly embody the ideals of their cities.
Come next year's CNY season, I recommend you skip the former and just watch it on TV (the experience is the same). But the latter - oh man - you have to be there to really experience it :)