Bendigo showed an enormous amount of respect and love for one of the city’s favourite icons on Sunday.
Sun Loong, who first debuted at the Bendigo Easter Festival in 1970, would have enjoyed his last solo walk in the sun with thousands of passionate Bendigonians lining the streets to cheer him on.
Parts of the crowd stood up to give the longest Chinese imperial dragon in the world a standing ovation while countless children were in awe of Sun Loong’s length.
As always it was an exciting and fitting end to another Bendigo Easter Festival.
Starting with a hunt for 85,000 eggs on Friday and going through rides, entertainment and performances on Saturday, the gala parade is always the jewel in the festival’s crown.
The parade started with huge cheers for emergency service crews, was filled with music from a host of marching, brass and pipe bands and flooded with colours from community groups that had clearly gone to a lot of effort.
Even before Sun Loong made his appearance in the parade, excitement was building for next year’s event with the possibility of two imperial dragons walking the streets.
Because while it may be Sun Loong’s last solo effort, the dragon will be back to show Bendigo’s new dragon Dai Gum Loong through the streets during next year’s parade.
Undoubtedly, it is an exciting prospect.
But if Bendigo residents want to see it, now is the time to show support.
The Sun Loong 750 campaign was launched at the end of March.
It aims to raise $750,000 to fund three projects – replacing Sun Loong with new dragon Dai Gum Loong, preserving and repairing Sun Loong and purchasing the regalia and costumes to accompany Dai Gum Loong.
Since the launch Bendigo community members have talked nostalgically about first seeing Sun Loong and being unable to imagine an Easter without a Chinese imperial dragon.
More than $7000 was raised in the first week of the campaign but Easter, with the last solo performance of Sun Loong, was the perfect time for the community to really get behind Sun Loong 750.
Let’s hope they did and that the excitement of the 2018 Bendigo Easter Festival lives up to the hype Bendigo residents are giving it.
- Chris Pedler, reporter