SINGAPORE - The Marina Bay floating platform was awash in red and white on Saturday (July 23) evening as Singaporeans enjoyed the first National Day Parade (NDP) preview in the lead up to the Aug 9 bash.
Fully vaccinated and encouraged to wear masks, the audience of almost 25,000 gave a warm welcome to the full-scale preview after two years of smaller-scale, decentralised celebrations necessitated by Covid-19 safe management measures.
They screamed with enthusiasm and waved their flags as they cheered on the medley of performances and military displays, encouraged by hosts Sonia Chew, Joakim Gomez, Siti Khalijah and Rishi Budhrani.
Highlights of the show this year include a segment marking the contributions of national servicemen, with this year being the 55th anniversary of national service.
Familiar favourites were back, such as the aerobatic displays by F-16 fighter jets and the display jumps by the Red Lions parachute team. There was also a Total Defence Display, a security operations demonstration by the Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team.
In a first for the NDP, special forces elements from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) also staged a hostage rescue demonstration from a "hijacked" public transport bus.
Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen reviewed the parade.
Logistics manager Othman Ayob, 75, was in the crowd with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchild.
He was watching the show for the sixth time with his wife, but their first at the Marina Bay floating platform.
"In the 1980s, my wife and I would queue overnight to get tickets to watch the show at the stadium," he said.
"But this is the first time we won tickets to watch the show at The Float, which is special since it's the last time the show will be here too."
This is the last year that the Parade will be held at the floating platform. Next year's will be at the Padang.
Saturday's show was the first of two full-scale preview shows to be held for the NDP, which is returning to its usual, centralised format, with balloting for tickets.
The show segment, helmed by first-time creative director and theatre veteran Adrian Pang, will depict how Singapore battled the pandemic and emerged from it.
Dental nurse Barakatneisa Shahul Hamid, 44, who was with her family in the crowd, said it felt great to be able to watch NDP live again.
She told The Straits Times: "There's a better atmosphere as compared to watching the performances on television, and we're most excited to see the fireworks and the Red Lions."