New dragon a vital part of Bendigo

CULTURAL ICON: Part of the $750,000 raised for the Sun Loong 750 fundraiser will go to preservation of 47-year-old dragon Sun Loong.
CULTURAL ICON: Part of the $750,000 raised for the Sun Loong 750 fundraiser will go to preservation of 47-year-old dragon Sun Loong.

STEADY donations are already flowing into the Sun Loong 750 campaign. 

The campaign was launched on Tuesday and is hoping to raise $750,000 to preserve Chinese imperial dragon Sun Loong and create a new dragon Dai Gum Loong for the 2018 festival. 

Golden Dragon Museum manager Anita Jack said while getting a replace for Sun Loong was important, the preservation work needed on the 47-year-old dragon was crucial.

“When doing our research, it is clear dragons (like Sun Loong) only last about 10 years,” she said.

“Sun Loong has a caretaker as does Loong. They do repairs and re-stitching has been happening for 47 years.

“In five years time we could have two dragons in the parade but it depends on Sun Loong’s conservation.”

Ms Jack said Sun Loong was important to Bendigo and that the museum was built as an attraction to house him.

“The museum attracts about 80,000 visitors each year and 40,000 of those are through festivals and events,” she said.

“Many of those people come to see him in the parade. I think a couple years ago when it looked like it would be raining, he went out early.

“Because he wasn't at the end of the parade, there was disappointment from people who had missed the start.

“He is a highlight, you can't question that. I wouldn’t know what ramifications we would have if there wasn’t a dragon. I don't want to think about that scenario.”

City of Greater Bendigo major events manager Terry Karamaloudis said the presentations by the Bendigo Chinese Association were a vital part of the Easter festival’s appeal.

“I couldn’t visualise the festival without a dragon. The appeal of festival would be significantly diminished,” he said.

“My gut feel is that Bendigo and the broader community see the importance of this project. A dragon at Easter part of the DNA of the city.

“Sun Loong is pretty tired after a long career. He has entertained hundreds of thousand of people. It is sad to see him retired but it will be equally as exciting to see his replacement.”

Bendigo Tourism Board chairwoman Kathie Bolitho said there was a great affection for the Chinese dragons.

“The Chinese dragons at Easter are a Bendigo institution and an iconic inclusion of the weekend,” she said.

“This cultural tradition is held with great affection from locals of all ages and backgrounds and spans generations. Bendigo is a proud and generous community who come together to support our cultural institutions and memories that are close to our hearts.”

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Anita Jack

Anita Jack