SINGAPORE - This year's National Day Parade (NDP) will focus on allowing Singaporeans to celebrate in their homes, instead of at a central location like the floating platform at Marina Bay.
Unlike previous parades, Singapore's 55th birthday bash - which features the theme Together, A Stronger Singapore - will see many parade segments moved to the heartland and streamed live over TV as well as Internet platforms, said the organising committee on Wednesday (May 20).
For the first time, traditional elements like the state flag fly-past, F-15SG fighter jet aerial display, the Red Lions free-fall jump, and mobile column will take place in different locations around the island. These displays will also pay special tribute to front-line workers against Covid-19.
The Aug 9 celebrations this year will start with a nationwide broadcast of the Prime Minister's National Day Message and a parade at the Padang reviewed by the President.
This will be accompanied by flag-raising ceremonies across Singapore during the singing of the National Anthem. Vessels from the Singapore Navy and various public agencies will participate in a maritime sail-past.
An evening show at The Star Performing Arts Centre in Buona Vista will feature films and performances by Singaporeans, culminating in a coordinated fireworks display at more than 10 different sites across the country.
In between the morning and evening segments, Singaporeans will also be able to participate in various virtual and home activities, such as an NDP-themed workout and a family cooking activity. Funpacks will be given to every Singaporean and permanent resident household.
The announcement on NDP comes a day after the multi-ministry task force in charge of handling the Covid-19 pandemic outlined ways to allow business, community and healthcare activities to resume gradually as Singapore exits its circuit breaker period on June 2.
The chairman of this year's NDP executive committee, Brigadier-General Frederick Choo, described NDP 2020 as a landmark one during a virtual media briefing on Wednesday.
"This year's NDP will be the first of its kind, in a format that Singaporeans have never seen before. For the first time, we will be bringing NDP across the island into every Singaporean's home. NDP will look, sound and feel very different from what we're used to.
"Like the past 54 NDPs, NDP 2020 will be an unyielding reminder that Singapore will keep going on. Covid-19 will not deter us, we will continue to celebrate, but differently.
"Together through this, we want to rally Singaporeans, and let's emerge from our challenges stronger and a more united Singapore."
BG Choo, who is the commander of 3rd Singapore Division from the Singapore Army, said that the health and welfare of participants are of the utmost importance, with a reduction of about 90 per cent in the number of participants for the Padang parade.
There were about 1,800 people on parade last year, and the committee plans to have only about 200 this year, he said. No rehearsals have been held so far, and they will start only after the circuit breaker period lifts on June 1.
There will also not be any national education or preview shows this year, he said.
The theme song for NDP 2020 will be shared at a later date, he added.
For the evening show, the committee at the moment is not planning for any live spectators. The number of performers should be around 80 to 100 people, down from about 2,600 at the Padang last year. Prevailing guidelines for large-scale events will be adhered to, said BG Choo.
The evening show will feature smaller-group items, meant to convey a greater sense of intimacy and warmth, instead of the usual mass performances. It will also feature performers, from everyday Singaporeans to local celebrities.
The show will tell "inspirational and uplifting" stories of Singaporeans during the Covid-19 pandemic, and pay tribute to front-line workers who have made a difference.
It will culminate in a nationwide anthem and pledge moment, with fireworks being set off at more than 10 different locations across Singapore.
Asked about the cost of this year's parade, BG Choo said that the concept of NDP has changed considerably from the initial budget, which was planned for a floating platform celebration.
"In some areas, the cost will be lower, because we're no longer having to put up infrastructure overheads at the float. We will have fewer participants... But there are also new requirements.
"So at this moment, we are unable to provide any details. This is mainly because the procurement process is ongoing as we speak, and we also have to cater to exigencies. But... rest assured that we will do all we can to make sure all expenditures are prudent and responsible."
Asked if there could be a scenario in which this year's NDP would be scrapped, BG Choo said that since the committee started work in July last year, and with the situation developing, they were determined to have an NDP on Aug 9 "come what may".
"We believe that as long as there is a Singapore, there will be an NDP," he said, adding that that is why there are no mass performances and congregations.
This year's NDP logo features five stars and a crescent in a heart representing compassion, accompanied by a fist that signifies conviction. The colour gradient of red to purple signifies a transition towards hope and optimism for the future, said BG Choo.
About 1.2 million funpacks - traditionally given to each parade attendee - will be given to each Singaporean and permanent resident household this year. The funpack was designed by aspiring artists with disabilities and Primary 5 pupils.
To encourage participation, the funpack will include items like pledge cards, handheld flags and torch filters that Singaporeans can use to participate in the show.
Singaporeans are encouraged to join the NDP 2020 campaign by uploading videos, photographs, and goodwill wishes on their personal social media accounts using the hashtag #TogetherStrongerSG and #NDP2020.
They can also tag the official NDP social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram (@NDPeeps).