KUALA LUMPUR: From fighter jets and frontliners to movie stars and national athletes, Malaysians were treated to one eye-popping surprise after another during the National Day 2022 parade.

The parade and march-past put on by nearly 20,000 participants dazzled the huge crowd that packed Dataran Merdeka.

The frontliners, especially, received thunderous applause and a heroes’ welcome for their role in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years, with endless “Terima kasih!” chants from the crowd.

The 84-member contingent comprised staff from the Health Ministry, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Armed Forces, Civil Defence Force, the National Disaster Management Agency, local authorities, as well as the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba).

Malaysians also cheered loudly as double-decker buses carrying 44 national athletes including Olympians and Paralympians passed by during the parade.

Among those seen were powerlifter Bonnie Bunyau Gustin, national sprinter Mohd Ridzuan Puzi and shot putter Ziyad Zolkefli.

The crowd was also visibly surprised when the cast of the smash hit movie Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan, Malaysia’s highest-grossing film of all time, showed up in the parade.

Riding a buggy in traditional Malay garb were veteran actors Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan and Datuk Rahim Razali, among others.

Another celebrity appearance was by Paskal cast members, including lead actor Ammar Alfian.

The loudest cheers, however, came for the Bomba men, who stood atop fire trucks with their chiselled physique to steal the show.

The men, who sported figure-hugging black shirts, sent the crowd and social media into a frenzy as they flexed their biceps and even showed off a python to the crowd.

Another notable group was the Orang Asli contingent, which was led by the country’s first Orang Asli MP Datuk Ramli Mohd Nor.

Meanwhile, Malaysian-owned electric motorcycles manufacturer Eclimo led the electric vehicles contingent in its debut this year.

Other electric vehicles that joined included BMW IX, Porsche Taycan Turbo S, Tesla Model 3 and X.

Another crowd pleaser was the K9 Unit parade.

The best was saved for the last, with the air show wowing the crowd.

The sound of fighter jets and other aircraft, including helicopters, roaring over the Kuala Lumpur airspace captivated the crowd.

They admired the prowess of the pilots of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the Royal Malaysian Police, Bomba and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.