Fundraising campaign to replace Sun Loong

Plans are afoot to ensure a dragon will continue to appear in the Bendigo Easter Festival.

The Golden Dragon Museum yesterday launched the Sun Loong 750 campaign, with the view to raising $750,000 to repair Sun Loong before his retirement and create his replacement, Dai Gum Loong.

The new dragon will replace Sun Loong from 2018.

Sun Loong 750 committee chairman Richard Guy said the new dragon was a must for the community.

He said if the money wasn’t raised there was the possibility that a Chinese dragon would no longer feature in the Bendigo Easter Festival.

“Can you imagine the Bendigo Easter Fair without a dragon? If we can't raise this money, that's what is going to happen,” Mr Guy said.

“So it’s a simple task to raise $750,000. It’s simple to say but making it happen will be quite a bit of work. 

“As from today every opportunity must be taken to raise money. We will need assistance from federal and state governments, the local council, and the Bendigo community.

“I'm sure a lot of people in community will want to contribute.”

Of the $750,000, about $235,000 will be spent on repairing and preserving Sun Loong while an estimated $500,000 will be spent on commissioning Dai Gum Loong and his accompanying pieces.

Sun Loong first took part in the Bendigo Easter Fair in 1970. 

He will retire after this year’s parade but may perform again in 2018 if Dai Gum Loong has not yet arrived in Bendigo.

“The publicity at the time in 1970 for Sun Loong and Bendigo was huge,” Mr Guy said.

“A number of people flooded in to the city to see the new dragon. It was enormous. The whole Easter fair was lifted up and made more exciting. I hope (Dai Gum Loong) will bring the same sort of hype.

“We want him here for 2018 but it might be 2019. It depends on how quickly we can raise the funds and how quickly we can get an order in to start the process of making one.”

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Dragons part of Bendigo culture

Like so many other Bendigo residents, Sun Loong 750 committee chairman Richard Guy has fond childhood memories of Loong – the first Bendigo dragon.

“I remember, as a child, standing in Mitchell Street behind my dad’s legs and being terrified of that dragon as it approached,” he said.

Sun Loong 750 committee chairman Richard Guy.

Sun Loong 750 committee chairman Richard Guy.

Mr Guy along with Golden Dragon Museum manager Anita Jack launched Sun Loong 750 – a campaign to raise $750,000 to repair Sun Loong and build his replacement Dai Gum Loong.

It is hoped Dai Gum Loong – meaning big golden dragon – will make his first appearance in Bendigo at the 2018 Easter parade.

Golden Dragon Museum director Russell Jack said Sun Loong had performed every year since 1970.

“In that period of time, I can't imagine how many people that dragon has bought to Bendigo. He's a bit tired and worn out now,’ Mr Jack said. 

“In Bendigo, Easter most important time for Chinese community.”