SINGAPORE — Singapore's 56th National Day Parade (NDP) will be marked by six times more participants than the 2020 edition, amid hopes that it will be the first of more mass events to come amid the pandemic.
"With the proper precautions in place, we want to make NDP a milestone event, paving the way for the resumption of large-scale events amid an endemic COVID-19 situation,” said Brigadier-General Tan Cheng Kwee, who chairs the NDP 2021 Executive Committee (ExCo).
While the ExCo is currently in discussions with the Ministry of Health on the number of spectators who will be allowed to attend the festivities, BG Tan told reporters at a media briefing that he hoped to see upwards of 1,000 spectators on 9 August.
Some 1,200 participants will be part of the 2021 festivities, taking place at The Float @ Marina Bay, which usually sees some 25,000 NDP spectators. Split into smaller functional groups, all participants have been fully vaccinated and must undergo weekly rostered routine testing across rehearsals and performances.
Yahoo News Singapore asked about contingency plans should there be a significant number of infections among participants, and whether there was any scenario under which the ExCo would consider cancelling the entire parade
In response, BG Tan expressed confidence in the safe management measures that will be taken for the parade. "The way we have organised the groups on the ground - seating, ticketing, getting the particulars for our participants as well as spectators - has been designed such that in the very, very rare situation if we have an infection, we can quickly ring fence, contact trace and quickly react."
There will only be one preview show, while Singaporeans are encouraged to stay home and catch the parade, as part of safe management measures.
By comparison, just 200 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel took part in the 2020 parade at the Padang, with limited spectators. For the first time, the parade did not have mass performances. Instead, an evening show with around 100 participants was broadcast from the Star Performing Arts Centre.
No public ballot for tickets
Speaking at a media briefing on Friday afternoon (2 July), BG Tan, who is the Chief Guards Officer, said there will be no public ballot for tickets this year.
Instead, fully-vaccinated “everyday heroes” – COVID frontliners and essential workers such as hawkers, transport personnel and teachers – will be invited to attend NDP 2021. The ExCo will work with the respective government agencies to nominate these individuals, likely by the middle of July.
"This year, with prudence in mind, we are going to limit the number of NDP packs we give out. They will only be given to spectators, and we also reduce the number of items we put in the packs," said BG Tan, who said the packs would contain "essential items" such as a reusable water bottle, hand sanitiser and a mini handheld Singapore flag.
Last month, the multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19 announced plans to accelerate Singapore's vaccination drive, with the goal to fully vaccinate two-thirds of the population against the coronavirus by National Day.
NDP 2021 theme
This year's NDP theme is “Together, Our Singapore Spirit”, while the parade's theme song, titled “The Road Ahead”, is written and composed by Linying and Evan Low. It is performed by Linying, Sezairi Sezali, Shye-Anne Brown and Shabir.
BG Tan stressed that NDP is not merely a performance or a show. "NDP is an entire movement through which Singaporean can express and affirm what they value about Singapore."
The parade will harness technology and connect performances for its first ever live-virtual performance. The same technology will be repeated in the Parade and Ceremony segments where civilian entities will participate and join NDP 2021 via virtual means.
There will be the customary community activities all across the island and a livestream of the parade to those at home. Both the Parade and Show segments have been designed with a home audience in mind, and viewers can look forward to seeing television-exclusive special effects during the livestream.
And over the weekend leading up to 9 August, the ever popular Red Lions will conduct free fall jumps over various heartland sites, in addition to old favourites like the State Flag flying over residential areas and fireworks.
However, there will not be a mobile column in the heartlands this year.
NDP 2021 is organised by the Singapore Armed Forces' Guards Formation, together with other public agencies and volunteer groups.
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