Jail Road and the roads adjacent to it became one big parking lot as thousands of people parked their vehicles and came round to witness a spectacular fireworks show to welcome March 23 at the stroke of midnight.
Thousands thronged to the Race Course Park to witness the 20-minute fireworks show on Saturday night. Jail Road, and the stretch of the Canal Road from The Mall to Ferozepur Road was packed with revellers from 10pm onwards on Saturday.
The district administration had decorated government buildings with fairy lights. The Parks and Horticulture Authority spent around Rs2.5 million on the fireworks. Celebrations continued at the Race Course Park where the Jashan-i-Baharan festival is being celebrated this month. Hundreds of stalls selling food, clothes, handicrafts and books were set up and the festivities continued till 1am.
Arslan Daud, who had arrived from Model Town to witness the fireworks, said it was a magnificent display. “Such events attract not only the youth but entire families who otherwise stay home on such occasions,” he said. “I think I cramped my neck watching the fireworks display,” he joked.
Sibtain Shah, a visitor from Garden Town, said it took him 40 minutes to reach Jail Road because of the traffic, “normally it takes 10 minutes”. He praised the arrangements. “Usually we only get to see young men performing motorcycle stunts on such occasions, but this is a treat,” he said.
The city government had also arranged a float parade. Students from several universities and colleges, and Civil Defence, Rescue-1122, Lahore Waste Management Company and PHA officials participated in the float parade.
The floats were themed: Culture of Pakistan, History of Pakistan, Culture of Lahore, Peace, Development Projects by the City Government and Provincial Government, Spring, Brotherhood, Culture of Punjab, Heritage of Lahore and Integration of Pakistan.
The opening ceremony of the parade was held in front of Pace, Gulberg. It went through Main Boulevard, Gulberg; to Jail Road, the Canal Road, The Mall and the Chamber of Commerce Road. The parade came to a close at Race Course Park where the city government and the Parks and Horticulture Authority had arranged a musical night.
March 23 dawned with a 21-gun salute. The ceremony was performed at Burki, six kilometres away from the international border at 6am. Later there was Quran khwani. Special prayers were offered at mosques after the Fajr prayers. The national flag was hoisted on all important buildings and at formation headquarters.
The highlight of the day was an arms and equipment display by the Pakistan Army at Ayub Stadium. Crowds of people poured into the stadium all day. Young officers at the Infantry, Armour, Artillery, Air Defence, Engineers, Signals and Pakistan Navy stalls briefed the inquisitive visitors.
The Pakistan Day was also celebrated at all PAF bases and installations. A change of guards and a wreath-laying ceremony were held at Allama Iqbal’s tomb. A contingent of the Pakistan Air Force took over guard duties from Satluj Rangers.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2014.