SINGAPORE – This year’s National Day Parade (NDP) at the Padang will feature the largest-ever parade prop – a 6m-tall metallic lion weighing about 1,000kg.

The huge prop – which is 8m in length and 4m in width – has a metallic surface to reflect light. The aim is to make it appear iridescent under the Padang’s stage lights.

LED lights have also been fitted along the contours of the “lion’s” mane.

The design and construction process took about eight months, beginning in October last year.

Colonel Lim Han Yong, chairman of the NDP 2019 show committee, said: “The legend goes that Sang Nila Utama saw a lion when he landed on Temasek, and he decided to call this island Singapura. Since then, the lion has been symbolic of our Lion City for more than 700 years.

“So in this special Bicentennial year, we decided to revisit our roots… The lion is not just representative of our beginning, it is also a symbol of our courage and strength.”

Col Lim, 39, added that Act Five of the show this year titled “Our Dreams” – which is when the silver lion makes its first appearance – “symbolises the courage, confidence and tenacity of Singaporeans in building our future together”.

Ten performers are needed to control the massive prop – six to steer it onto the stage and four to control the movement of its legs.

The performers, who have been rehearsing three times a week since late May, also studied the movement of live lions by watching wildlife videos and documentaries, and even animated shows like The Lion King.

Performer Jensen Lim, 20, said they took videos of themselves controlling the prop and compared them with footage of real lions.

“Due to the weight of the lion, it’s pretty hard to change its direction. So when we enter the Padang, my team has to be very precise with the timing, especially during the stops and turns, so that we can keep to the timetable,” he added.