Crowd laps up the show

GALLERY: Bendigo Easter Gala Parade Faces

RELATED: Marching for glory and fun

Imperial dragon Sun Loong still the people's favourite

RESIDENTS flocked to the Easter parade from as early as 5am yesterday - and they weren't disappointed.

In the morning punters indulged in the offerings at the many food stalls and took part in activities at Rosalind Park but at 1pm it was time for the hotly anticipated parade.

Considered by many to be the highlight of the Easter festival, some people had camped along Pall Mall since first thing Sunday morning to ensure their prime position. 

Judging by the crowd's reaction, it would seem they thought the show was worth the wait.

Mayor Barry Lyons was the first cab off the rank, followed by emergency service personnel, a pumping rock band and stately marching bands.

Just about every community group in greater Bendigo followed - from swingin' Jailhouse rockers to a group of Kelpie enthusiasts.

But it was the Bendigo Chinese Association that the crowd went wild for.

They entered in a puff of smoke - literally - pulling fire crackers triumphantly as they darted in.

Dragon puppets were pulled in every which direction and were eventually followed by the main attraction - the longest imperial dragon in the world, 100-metre Sun Loong.

People cheered loudly - their affection for the iconic dragon as strong as ever.

Glenda and Craig Clifton, who attended the parade with their family for the first time in years, said they were immensely impressed with Sun Loong.

"I'd forgotten how big it is," Mr Clifton said.

I'd forgotten how big it was. I thought it was really good. - Craig Clifton

 "I thought it was really good."

Mrs Clifton said she also loved seeing Sun Loong but added that it was great to learn of community groups that she hadn't before heard of, such as a dance school for children with Down Syndrome.

Annette Stockwell was at the festival with her nephew Michael Court, whose mother was taking part in the parade.

The pair had set up their chairs along Pall Mall at 10am in the morning.

When asked what her favourite part of the procession was Ms Stockwell didn't hesitate.

"You've gotta say the dragon," she said. "And I love the Chinese lions."

But she said she had enjoyed seeing her other nephew putting in a stellar effort in the under-12s running competition.

Karen refugees Ehsoe Klan, K'nyaw Mu and Willow Paw said before moving to Australia they had never celebrated Easter.

The festival was a novelty experience for them and they said they were having a lot of fun and loving it.

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