The People’s Association (PA) announced the details of the upcoming annual Chingay parade 2016 to the media on Thursday.
Mr Nah Juay Hng, the committee chairman for Chingay 2016, said that the audience will be given a specially made hand-held bulb so that they can be part of the fully illuminated opening and finale of the parade. This will involve 25,000 spectators per night.
The parade is set to be held on 19 and 20 Febrarury at the F1 Pit Building.
With the theme “Lights of Legacy, Brighter Singapore”, the parade will feature 50 contingents with troupes from 10 countries and for the first time, there will be a joint performance by more than 30 religious organisations led by the Inter-Religious Organisations Singapore (IRO).
PA also revealed yesterday that this year's Chingay parade will see more than 8,000 lanterns that are shaped like light-bulbs to be flown in the air during the parade.
The sky lanterns are said to symbolise the core values of Singaporeans being passed down to the next generation.
"We chose the theme 'Lights of Legacy, Brighter Singapore' to remember the values that were fostered by our pioneers," said Mr Ang Hak Seng, Chief Executive Director of PA.
The parade will also feature a 66-metre “flying” LED dragon, aerial performances from a 50m-tall crane and the biggest full-scale illuminated show ever performed in Chingay.
PA shared in an earlier post that the completed Sky Lanterns will be displayed at the venue where the parade will be held.
Concerns over possible release of balloons
While having 8,000 over balloons lighting up the night skies is indeed a spectacular sight to behold, but concerned citizens over possible environmental implications have taken to PA's facebook page to voice their concerns.
Former NMP, Faizah Jamal wrote on PA's fanpage, "Please re consider this idea. It would be even more meaningful if you take into account the environment impact of your event especially since the impact of releasing balloons is already well-documented. Even if these are not released, the disposal of such products at some point is still going to leave a negative impact which in turn will affect us. Time to re think the idea of having fun and weave in ideas of responsibility to the environment as well. Having fun should not be at the expense of our natural world . After all no environment, no fun !"
While another commenter, Olivia Choong wrote, "While it's a lovely gesture to gather all these wonderful hopes for Singapore, we also need to consider the impact of what happens with these balloons afterwards. I would also like to know if these balloons will be released into the sky, and if they will be filled with helium? The end point of these balloons will clearly be the bin, but let's not have unintended consequences like land and sea pollution."
TOC has since contacted PA on its plans for the balloons and said that it has no plans to release the balloons during the two days of the parade. It also said that the balloons would be deflated and be kept.
In a recent facebook posting, PA clarified that the Sky Lanterns are performance props and not meant to be released into the sky. They will not pose any environmental issue.
The caption by Channel News Asia might have caused some confusion over the intended purpose of the balloons.
However as one commenter, Alethea Jane wrote on the PA's fanpage, "I do hope these lanterns are not intended for release as you know, they inevitably end up in the environment and let's face it, there is no feasible and cost-effective way for organisers to clean them up."
She added, "Even if they are intended solely for display, helium balloons inevitably get released by the public, whether accidentally or intentionally. And it is tough for organisers to control this." and suggested that the balloons to be filled with air and hung from a structure, citing the visual effect produced would be similar and could be admired for a longer period of time.
Dolphins, whales, turtles, and many other marine species, as well as terrestrial animals such as cows, dogs, sheep, tortoises, birds and other animals have been documented to been hurt or killed by balloons. The animal is usually killed by having its digestive tract blocked from the consumption of the balloon, leaving them unable to take in any more nutrients and slowly starves to death. The animals can also become entangled in the balloon and its ribbon making the animal unable to move or eat. Sea turtles are particularly at risk because they naturally prey on jellies, which balloons can easily be mistaken for, even with human eyes.