Dragon has lived a long life

IT has been a long and eventful life for Bendigo’s iconic Imperial dragon Loong.The world’s oldest Imperial dragon first graced Bendigo’s streets in 1892, taking part in the annual Easter parade 35 years after the Bendigo Chinese community first started raising money.In the years that followed, he would astonish crowds as he weaved his way throughout the city’s streets.But just getting to Bendigo was a journey in itself.He is about 40 metres long and is made of paper mache, silk, beads and king fisher feathers, which were very precious and almost extinct during Imperial times. It is unknown how long it took to make Loong, but estimates suggest it would have taken months, if not years.Loong, who needs 22 people for him to move, has travelled the nation, helping to raise money for charities and performing for the Australia’s Chinese communities.In 1901, he featured in Melbourne’s celebration of federation and returned 100 years later to mark the occasion.He was added to the Victorian Heritage Register and receives the state’s highest level of protection.Loong started to show the signs of aging in the late 1960s and was retired in 1970 after community fundraising helped purchase his replacement, Sun Loong, which means new dragon.The group that raised money for Loong’s replacement reformed in later years to raise $30,000 to ensure Sun Loong remained the longest Imperial dragon in the world.Since his retirement, Loong has only awoken twice to celebrate the opening of the Golden Dragon Museum in 1991 and to mark its 10th anniversary in 2001.

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