Drones, gunfights, guitar-rocking granny: 7 NDP highlights not to be missed

Performers at the National Day Parade preview on July 29, 2017.
Performers at the National Day Parade preview on July 29, 2017.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The National Day Parade (NDP) returns to the Marina Bay floating platform on Wednesday (Aug 9), along with crowd favourites such as the Red Lions skydivers.

The show promises plenty of action and entertainment - from gunfights and explosions to dazzling drone formations.

Here are seven highlights to look out for:


It has been two years since spectators last glued their eyes to the sky to watch the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Parachute Team, or Red Lions, freefall towards the parade grounds.

Parade-goers missed seeing the Red Lions last year, as safety restrictions prevented them from parachuting down to the National Stadium. And during the SG50 celebration at the Padang in 2015, the jump had to be called off because of poor weather.


This year, the nine-member skydiving team will be making their return, leaping from a Super Puma helicopter at a height of 10,000 feet (3,050m) before deploying their parachutes and manoeuvring their way to a graceful landing.


Also making its comeback is the Dynamic Defence Display, which will showcase the capabilities of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) in action-packed sequences featuring pyrotechnics and special effects.

The defence display will be divided into two segments for the first time, and boast 500 participants and more than 50 assets - the biggest number to date.

Seven types of vehicles will also be making their parade debut, such as the SAF's Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle, the SPF's Tactical Response Motorcycle and the SCDF's Fire-Medical Vehicle.

Seven types of vehicles will also be making their parade debut, such as the SAF's Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle, the SPF's Tactical Response Motorcycle and the SCDF's Fire-Medical Vehicle. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The second segment, held after the parade and ceremony part of the show, will feature a counter-terrorism display.


A simulated terror attack during the NDP preview. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The counter-terrorism segment will simulate a whole-of-government response to a terrorist attack, which will "interrupt" the show. It will demonstrate how cyber-security agencies deal with cyber attacks, followed by how the SAF and Home Team respond to terrorist threats here.

Gunfights, explosions and the storming of a terrorist hideout will play out during the scene, which will be enhanced with movie-style special effects. And, in a parade first, performers will fire blanks from the seating gallery, adding to the realism of the display.


President Tony Tan Keng Yam waving to spectators after inspecting the Guard of Honour contingents at the National Day Parade 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

This year's NDP will be the last chance for parade-goers to wave at President Tony Tan Keng Yam during the presidential drive-past as he nears the end of his six-year term.

In his final parade as president, Dr Tan will inspect the military parade and receive the traditional presidential gun salute. Four howitzer guns aboard the Mobility 3rd Generation military raft will fire 21 times in salute to the President as a military honour.


To mark the 50th anniversary of national service, an NS50 tribute video will be screened, and servicemen, their families and employers will receive a salute from the parade's marching contingent in recognition of their efforts.

Operationally ready national servicemen will also feature in other parts of the show to mark the occasion. The parade commander, for example, is Lieutenant-Colonel (NS) Lim Wee Tee. This year's NDP funpacks will also include a commemorative NS50 key chain.

The commemorative NS50 key chain. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI


Drones forming an image of the Merlion during NDP Preview 2, on July 29, 2017. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

For the first time in an NDP, 300 drones will take to the skies over Marina Bay, in the largest display of such drones in South-east Asia. The five-minute drone light show will comprise seven main formations: an arrow, a heart with a crescent and five stars, an outline of the Singapore island, the Merlion, children, the NDP 2017 logo and a hashtag.

The lightweight drones, equipped with built-in LED lighting, are controlled from a single computer using specialised software.


Mosquito puppets

A preview of the "mosquito puppets" which will be featured in the NDP 2017 show. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

A giant mosquito puppet is hardly what one would expect to take centre stage at an NDP. But with viruses like Zika and dengue posing an ever-present threat, the audience will be roped in to a clap choreography to symbolise the collective effort required to address the threat of mosquitoes.

Dancers carrying smaller mosquito puppets will also buzz their way through the audience and onto the stage during Act 1 of the parade, themed Living Together.

Purple Symphony

The Purple Symphony, at an NDP rehearsal on June 17, with its assistant conductor (in red, centre) Liong Kit Yeng. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Among this year's NDP debuts is an ensemble of musicians with and without special needs performing together to highlight the message of inclusivity. The Purple Symphony - Singapore's largest disability-inclusive orchestra - will have 24 of its 90 members perform We Will Get There, the NDP 2002 theme song.

Among the 24 musicians, 20 have special needs, including intellectual and physical disabilities. One of the performers, who is deaf, helped to choreograph the song's hand signs, which will be performed by 400 Henry Park Primary pupils.

Grandma Mary

Madam Mary Ho, 81, who is popularly known as Grandma Mary, is the oldest participant in this year's National Day Parade. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

A crowd favourite during the NDP previews was Madam Mary Ho, popularly known as Grandma Mary, who will be rocking an electric guitar solo. At 81, she is the oldest among the more than 3,000 performers in this year's parade.

The grandmother of seven and mother-in-law of former foreign minister George Yeo, Madam Ho is among the "silver generation" performers in a segment celebrating the nation's unity and diversity.