Chingay 2015: Man behind giant floats

Chingay 2015: Man behind giant floats

Even with almost a decade of experience under his belt, Mr Andrew Foo still finds building floats challenging.

One of the biggest challenges for the Chingay festivities this year is the height of the floats. The 20 floats are between 4m and 18m tall.

One was damaged when they built it higher than planned, resulting in it colliding with a bridge a few days before the first full-dress rehearsal.

"After that, we had to cut it by a few metres and repaint it," said Mr Foo, senior manager at Q's Advertising, the setbuilding firm appointed for this year's parade.

The parade will hit the road on Friday and Saturday at the F1 Pit Building. Tickets can be bought through Sistic and start at $28.50.

The Singapore Tree Of Hope (right) weighs about 6,000kg to 7,000kg and is the main float of two finale floats.

The tree is meant to symbolise the dreams and hopes of Singaporeans.

Home-grown singer JJ Lin will also be performing an original song for the parade's grand finale, themed "Trees Of Hope, Singapore Dreams".

Mr Foo recalled his experience building his first float some nine years ago, saying it was mainly "trial and error".

He said that float building in the past was a simpler affair than it is now, as the floats were much smaller and less elaborate.

The most challenging float he has ever built was "Draconika", a threeheaded dragon that appeared in the 2009 parade.

The float had many special effects such as fire spewing out of the dragon's mouth and smoke coming out of its tail.

Its three heads also had to be kept light, so that the float could support its weight and meet safety standards. "I almost gave up doing that float," Mr Foo said.

FLOAT SAFETY

Safety is crucial, which is why all the performers on board have to be strapped with a harness, said Mr Foo.

Another safety precaution is having only one designated driver per float throughout the Chingay festivities.

The floats are difficult to manoeuvre and it takes practice to drive them, said Mr Foo.

In the weeks leading up to a parade, preparations sometimes get so intense that he works every day of the week.

The satisfaction the job provides helps him deal with the fatigue.

"When I see the response of the audience when they see the floats...it's more than enough for me," he said with a smile.

The Chingay floats will also be making a special appearance at Orchard Road after a sevenyear break for the SG50 Night Fiesta, a national street party held on Sunday, 7pm to 10pm, starting from ION Orchard to Ngee Ann City. It is free of charge.


This article was first published on February 25, 2015.
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