NDP 'birthday cake' ready to be lit up

Military Expert (ME) 4 Lim Seng Kiat and Military Expert (ME) 6 Cheong Heng Wan (left), chairman of the fireworks committee, demonstrating how a fireworks shell (used for aerial or high-level displays) is prepared aboard the giant birthday cake barge.

Singapore will celebrate its 49th birthday with a giant "cake" - and its candles may prove difficult to blow out.

The 60m by 70m structure will float on a barge in Marina Bay. It comprises five stars and a crescent moon, as well as 440 flares which will be lit during the singing of the National Anthem. It will complement the usual four-minute fireworks finale during the National Day Parade, which will be held at Marina Bay's floating platform on Aug 9.

The fireworks committee chairman, Military Expert (ME) 6 Cheong Heng Wan, said: "We wanted to create something special for the nation. Fireworks are usually associated with an aerial showcase but we wanted it to be different and to light up the bay with a 'birthday cake' from the ground."

This is the last time the parade will be held on the floating platform, which has the Central Business District as a backdrop. The floating platform has served as a temporary parade site since 2007, except in 2010 when the parade was held at the Padang, while the new National Stadium was being built.

Next year's parade will be held at the Padang, before the new stadium in Kallang becomes its likely regular venue.

Preparation for the show's pyrotechnics display, such as the choreography, started in September last year. ME6 Cheong said the fireworks were purchased from "all over the world".

The Ministry of Defence declined to say how much the display cost but said the budget is comparable to those of previous years. About 50 volunteers, full-time national servicemen and regulars are part of the pyrotechnics team. It takes them about a week to set up the fireworks for each rehearsal. Said ME6 Cheong: "Our job is to also complement other segments of the show, from the pre-parade performances to the precision drills."

Financial adviser Nicholas Lee, 26, always looks forward to fireworks at the parade. "As revellers, we are always anticipating what's new and different," he said. "It's great that there's a giant birthday cake this year. Fireworks are, after all, one of the main highlights of the parade and it's interesting to see how organisers build up (the celebration) to the grand finale."



This article was first published on July 18, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.