Bendigo's imperial dragon Sun Loong has paraded for the final time at the Bendigo Advertiser Gala Parade.
The crowd of thousands of people cheered loudly and applauded as the 50 year old dragon made his final journey through the Bendigo city streets.
Sun Loong was brought to the city in 1970 after the Bendigo Chinese Association decided that it was time for the city's first imperial dragon Loong to retire after he paraded for more than 70 years.
Sun Loong, who was created in Hong Kong after the generous donations of the local community, has carried the mantle of the city's main dragon strongly for the past five decades.
He has paraded through the streets of Bendigo every year and has even performed for royalty when Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited the city in 1983.
Sun Loong was made in the traditional dragon style and is covered in more than 6000 scales, 90,000 mirrors, and 40,000 beads. His head alone weighs 20.5 kilograms.
Sun Loong has also made it into the record books as the longest dragon of his kind before the new dragon Dai Gum Loong surpassed his title this year.
Sun Loong was originally 200 feet long or 66 metres when he was created in Hong Kong in 1969.
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But in 1979 when the Melbourne Chinese Association created a new dragon that was longer, the Bendigo Chinese Association added an extra 100 feet of material to the imperial dragon.
Sun Loong now stands at 300 feet or 100 metres long. His size means that 57 people were required to carry him on Sunday.
But his long body and grand head, which were restored for this year's parade, weaved its way through View Street and Pall Mall to the delight of the crowd.
When the old dragon Loong retired in 1970, he handed the reigns over to Sun Loong during a traditional ceremony at that year's Easter parade.
On Sunday, Sun Loong passed on the same traditions to the new dragon Dai Gum Loong.
Sun Loong met the new dragon at the Alexandra Fountain along with Loong and the night dragon Yar Loong.
Sun Loong bowed to Dai Gum Loong, marking the official handing over to the new dragon.
The 50-year-old dragon was then the last of the imperial dragons to make his way down Pall Mall and return to the Golden Dragon Museum to conclude the parade.
His return was met with much fanfare from the crowd and the Chinese lion dancers who lept into the sky in honour for his final parade.
Now in retirement, the grand old dragon will reside at the Golden Dragon Museum. He will be able to rest easy after a busy 50 years parading in Bendigo.
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