NDP 2014: Goodbye, Marina Bay

NDP 2014: Goodbye, Marina Bay
Aerial view of the Singapore Marina Bay city skyline, showing the Marina Bay Sands (left), the Marina Bay Financial Centre (centre) and the Central Business District skyscrapers (right). In the foreground is The Float @ Marina Bay.

SINGAPORE - Originally meant to be a stop-gap venue for the National Day Parade (NDP), The Float@Marina Bay has breathed new life into the nation's birthday bash since its first outing in 2007.

Unlike past venues, the world's largest floating stage not only affords a gorgeous backdrop, but also adds a water element that was previously missing.

Successive NDP committees have made creative use of the waters surrounding the platform, wowing audiences with high-speed spills from Police Coast Guard vessels, Naval Divers, and the Navy's gun boats.

This might well be the last NDP against the iconic city backdrop - at least for the foreseeable future - as the nation's birthday will be celebrated at the Padang next year, and then at the Sports Hub in 2016.

Parades at the bay spawned a new tradition in 2009, with a Presidential Gun Salute on its own floating platform in sight of the audience.

Said full-time national serviceman Yang Zi Ying from the 23rd Singapore Artillery, an ammunition loader for this year's gun salute: "Every time the M3G (amphibious raft) floats past the Helix Bridge, people will wave at us.

"The Primary 5 kids will scream when the guns fire - it's a very good feeling."

While the stage and capacity are smaller than the National Stadium's, the more intimate setting brings the audience closer to both performers and military hardware.

Ten-time parade participant Elizabeth Tan, 23, of the People's Association mass-display group said she will miss performing at The Float as it is the only NDP venue to date where participants face the entire audience.

Brigadier-General (Ret) Teo Jing Siong, who was Chief Engineer Officer and chairman of the NDP organising committee in 2007, hopes that, like the Padang, the scenic locale will eventually return to the rotating pool of possible NDP venues.

"With some refurbishments, it (The Float) can probably go on for another five to seven years. If you want to show the whole Singapore city backdrop, you still can go back to the floating platform, if they choose to keep it around."

This article was first published on August 10, 2014.
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