Singa the Courtesy Lion, Sharity the Elephant among cuddly mascots to make return

These Singapore mascots will appear in the pre-parade segment, and join other performers to take the National Pledge at the end of the parade on Aug 9.
These Singapore mascots will appear in the pre-parade segment, and join other performers to take the National Pledge at the end of the parade on Aug 9.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Wushu coach Jennie Toh will be Captain Green (clean and green lifestyle) and student Xena Kan will play Water Wally (water conservation). These are two of the returning mascots at the National Day Parade.
Wushu coach Jennie Toh will be Captain Green (clean and green lifestyle) and student Xena Kan will play Water Wally (water conservation). These are two of the returning mascots at the National Day Parade.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
The divers from the Naval Diving Unit will drop 1,800m from a Super Puma helicopter into the waters around the Marina Bay floating platform.
The divers from the Naval Diving Unit will drop 1,800m from a Super Puma helicopter into the waters around the Marina Bay floating platform.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

Nostalgia ahead as Singa and Sharity join others in their parade comeback

The mere mention of Singa the Courtesy Lion and Sharity the Elephant provides a guaranteed dose of nostalgia for generations of Singaporeans.

The cuddly Singapore mascots from years gone by are among those which will make their return at this year's National Day Parade (NDP), once again spreading their messages of care, compassion and kindness. Also among them is Teamy the Bee, which was part of the campaign for a more efficient workforce.

But while taking in Singa's trademark yellow fur and Sharity's pink skin-blue jumpsuit combo, for example, members of the crowd should spare a thought for the sweating souls inside the giant outfits, with each taking around five minutes to put it on.

Nanyang Polytechnic nursing student Xena Kan, 18, will take on the role of Water Wally - the water droplet created in 2005 to spread the water-conservation message.

She heard about the opportunity from her dance instructor and applied for it as she wanted to experience what it is like in a mascot costume. Participating in her second NDP, the 1.56m-tall Miss Kan said that height is a factor when deciding who dons which character.

For the mascot performers, hydration is key. Those with long hair also tie their hair up or wear bandanas. "It will be very humid, especially as our show is around 5pm," she explained. During rehearsals, they first learn the choreography without the upper half of their costumes on before progressing in full kit.

Fellow mascot performer, wushu coach Jennie Toh, 23, will be performing as Captain Green, the frog encouraging Singaporeans to adopt a clean and green lifestyle.

Miss Toh has taken part in all but two NDPs since she was 14, including last year when she performed as a mosquito. She considers this year the most challenging experience as she does not have her full vision, but feels content when she goes out on stage and gives her all.

"The vision is about 20 per cent," she said. "There are parts where the dancers will leave us alone and we have to dance by ourselves. We are basically like dancing in the dark and seeing nothing."

Miss Toh enjoys the anonymity of being in the costume, as she feels like she is fully immersing herself in the character. "I quite enjoy it, because when I put on the suit, I become a second person. Nobody knows who I am."

Playing to the crowd and noticing how they respond to what you are doing is also crucial, said Miss Toh. "I'll just try various actions, and whichever the crowd shouts the loudest at, I'll just keep doing it." Although they have limited vision, they can still hear the cheers from the crowd, which Miss Toh said is a motivating factor to give her all when performing.

It makes her feel "like the heart has got a lot of flowers coming out".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2018, with the headline 'Cuddly mascots to make return at NDP'. Print Edition | Subscribe