BY CHERYL LIM
THIS year, the National Day Parade (NDP) will feature a brand-new experience for spectators.
The traditional 21-gun salute to the President will take place on a floating military bridge across the waters at Float@Marina - right before the eyes of the spectators.
The chairman of the segment, Major Karen Wong, said: "We realised we could do the gun salute on the water at Float@Marina, something we could not do in previous venues. Coupled with the backdrop of One Fullerton and the Merlion, the sight will be majestic."
Previously, the salute was conducted at various places, including the Padang. Last year, it was in front of the Singapore Flyer. This is the third year the NDP is being held at Marina Bay.
Major Wong added: "The 78m floating bridge is in the heart of Marina Bay, and positioned about 200m from the seating gallery. The audience will be able to see the firing up close...and not just on projector screens."
The new format also meant new challenges previous NDP teams did not face.
Major Wong said: "One challenge we faced was the amount of time it takes to set up the platform.
"Setting the platform up takes three to four hours.
This means for rehearsals that start slightly after noon, we have to wake up as early as 4am."
The commander of parade and ceremony, Colonel Chee Wai Mun, said there are safety measures in place, which include life vests on the platform for the soldiers involved in the salute.
Care was also taken to ensure the sound level from the gun salute - tested to be "softer than noise from a discotheque" - did not pose a "health hazard" for the audience, Col Chee said.
Another key highlight this year is the City March-Pass, in which 23 marching contingents - made up of close to 2,000 parade participants - will march outside Float@Marina.
This will allow those who did not manage to get NDP tickets to join in the festivities.
The 3.2km route brings the celebrations out to the city, along Raffles Avenue, Esplanade Drive and St Andrew's Road.
In previous years, the marching contingents marched a distance of only about 300m within Float@Marina.
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