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NDP 2016: Show a treat, but new venue gets mixed reviews

SINGAPORE — Held at the Sports Hub’s new National Stadium for the first time, yesterday’s National Day Parade (NDP) proved to be a different experience for spectators, earning mixed reviews from those who attended the country’s 51st birthday bash.

NDP 2016: Show a treat, but new venue gets mixed reviews

Massive Singapore National Flag seen during the National Day Parade 2016 at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub on Aug 9, 2016. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

SINGAPORE — Held at the Sports Hub’s new National Stadium for the first time, yesterday’s National Day Parade (NDP) proved to be a different experience for spectators, earning mixed reviews from those who attended the country’s 51st birthday bash.

While traditional crowd favourites such as the Red Lions parachutists, aerial displays and mobile column of military vehicles were missed, the 55,000-strong audience was treated to a dazzling visual display — complete with aerial performers and elaborate props such as a flying unicorn.

Among those who enjoyed the show was Mr Mohd Radzelee, a 55-year-old technician. He felt the setting made for better storytelling.

“The 3D building structures and the hanging puppets, the laser lights — it’s better for the story of Singapore’s beginning and future.”

Among the props were 15 miniature models of iconic landmarks, including Changi Airport and Gardens by the Bay.

Giant hanging props were also projected using 3D mapping. Compared to the Marina Bay floating platform or Padang — where the NDP was held over the past decade — the National Stadium allowed more people the chance to enjoy the spectacle, given that it can accommodate more than double the size of the audience at the other venues, Mr Mohd Radzelee noted.

Finance executive Ms Nabilah Lazim, 23, also said she preferred this year’s venue. “I feel that I can see the visuals more clearly here, with the characters all suspended in front of us. The placement of television screens throughout (the stadium) also gave us a clearer view.”

Student Edwin Tan, 25, noted that by holding the NDP at the National Stadium, the audience does not have to brave the elements and can enjoy the show in air-conditioned comfort. “There is shelter. So rain or shine, it’s still fine. When I’m inside, it’s actually cooler than (on) the floating platform, so that’s great,” he said.

The audience was treated to an indoor fireworks display for the first time, but scores of spectators were seen leaving the parade before the show ended, to make their way to the waterfront promenade next to the stadium to catch the fireworks outside.

Undergraduate Angelia Tan, 25, was among those who left the stadium early. “The Padang was definitely better (as an NDP venue). It had the Red Lions parachuting in, and the fireworks. In fact, we came out to see the fireworks, I think most people did,” she said.

Marketing executive Mr Wong Zhiwei, 40, added: “I still miss the ambience of the floating platform venue. Sure, there were some nice effects at this year’s show, but seeing the tanks, flypast and fireworks at the Padang area was exciting. You can’t really replace that.”

The Red Lions segment was omitted for safety reasons at this year’s NDP, which cost S$39.4 million. The venue cost made up 15 per cent of the total bill, tripling from 4 per cent in previous years.

In comparison, previous NDPs at the Marina Bay Floating Platform cost between S$15.7 million and S$17.9 million. The cost of the NDP at the Padang in 2010 was S$20.6 million, while last year’s SG50 celebrations cost S$40.5 million.

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