NDP 2016 AT THE HUB: THE PRESENT

'It's not scary at all'

Left: Kai steals the show and many hearts as he rides on a unicorn flying nine storeys high. To prepare for his role, he spent 16 hours in flight training. The item was a reference to the Prime Minister's comparison of Singapore to the "one of a kind
Above: Kai steals the show and many hearts as he rides on a unicorn flying nine storeys high. To prepare for his role, he spent 16 hours in flight training. The item was a reference to the Prime Minister's comparison of Singapore to the "one of a kind" creature last year.
Left: Kai steals the show and many hearts as he rides on a unicorn flying nine storeys high. To prepare for his role, he spent 16 hours in flight training. The item was a reference to the Prime Minister's comparison of Singapore to the "one of a kind
Above: Kai is helped by rigger Iswadi Razle (at left), before he goes through his practice paces for the performance.

Minejima-Lee Kai is only seven, but he was already stealing hearts at the National Day Parade (NDP) as he rode a glittering rainbow unicorn through the air.

Oohs and aahs sounded throughout the darkened stadium during the parade's third act, as the unicorn, suspended from the stadium roof and twinkling with LED lights, galloped skywards in slow motion.

Kai, clad in a star-spangled onesie with an aviator's cap, rode the aluminium beast in a harness with nary a trace of nerves.

Even though the unicorn rose to a height of 30m - about nine storeys - he remained undaunted, sometimes even taking one hand off the reins to wave to the crowd.

"It's not scary at all," he told The Straits Times. "It's really exciting."

Kai follows in the tradition of other NDP child stars, such as Natanya Tan, who was also seven when she co-sang the National Day theme song in 2012.

  • UNICORN

  • Weight: 175kg Height: 2.7m Width: 3m

To prepare for his role, he spent 16 hours in flight training, and rode the unicorn more than 10 times.

The unicorn itself took three months to design, and another three months to construct. Weighing 175kg, it measured 2.7m in height and 3m in width.

It sparkled with 14,000 LED lights. "That's why I like my unicorn so much," said Kai, "because it lights up, which is very cool."

The Stamford American International School student has never been afraid of heights, and in fact has wanted to fly since he was four years old.

An avid young sportsman, he loves indoor skydiving. He also practises taekwondo, wushu and rock climbing.

Being part of the show left him so thrilled it was difficult to put him to bed afterwards, said his parents.

His mother Naomi Minejima, 40, who runs a children's concept store in Tanglin Mall, said she had no qualms about leaving their only child's safety in the hands of the NDP team. "I watched them at work, and they were very precise."

His father, writer and blogger Benjamin "Mr Miyagi" Lee, 47, admitted he was hesitant about the stunt at first, mostly because he himself is afraid of heights.

But this was soon eclipsed by the pride he felt every time Kai took to the air.

He said: "I'm just so happy, so very happy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2016, with the headline ''It's not scary at all''. Print Edition | Subscribe