"THE crowd was spectacular. The weather was spectacular. And Bendigo was just amazing."
Golden Dragon Museum general manager Anita Jack could scarcely have been happier with the Bendigo Advertiser Gala Parade - an historic moment for the city.
The moment Dai Gum Loong, Bendigo's big golden dragon, was welcomed to the family.
A record 80,000 people lined the parade route to see it all unfold.
Night dragon Yar Loong was the first to meet the new dragon at the Alexandra Fountain.
Sun Loong, Dai Gum Loong's predecessor, then joined them, followed by the city's longest surviving imperial dragon, Loong.
There was celebration outside the Golden Dragon Museum as Loong led his descendants home.
"It was just wonderful to see everyone out to have a look at all our hard work over the last 12 months, and all the dragons looked magnificent," Ms Jack said.
"It was a really big team effort. Everyone has a place... and that's what I think really contributes to the success because there are so many elements in putting on a performance like this."
Bendigo Chinese Association president Doug Lougoon estimated about 2000 people helped bring the event to fruition.
"We couldn't do it without that support," he said, thanking all those involved for their contributions.
"The look on people's faces, from a spectator point of view, they seemed to be in awe of what was happening."
They might not have been as easily visible, but the faces of at least two of the volunteers under the dragons were equally rapturous.
"You couldn't wipe the smile off my face, I was so happy to be there," Felicity Brennan-Tong, one of Dai Gum Loong's first female head carriers, said.
Fellow female head carrier, Kirstie Jones, said the atmosphere was electric.
"It was unbelievable," she said.
Dai Gum Loong is expected to continue the tradition of a golden dragon parading in Bendigo for another 50 - 100 years.
"It's wonderful to be able to put Sun Loong into the museum, resting so he can be further appreciated and talked about by the population when they come into the museum," Ms Jack said.
Retiring Golden Dragon Museum director Russell Jack said he was very appreciative of the crowd's support and very pleased by how the day went.
"You'll always get criticism - of course you will," Mr Jack said,
"Even if you put on a perfect show somebody will say it's no good. But how can you judge this crowd here in Bendigo this year?
"I have never seen crowds like that ever in my life. Ever."
The threat of rain had loomed over the parade, but the showers held off.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang nearly came unstuck from its float as it made its way down View Street, but quick-thinking onlookers averted a crisis by helping secure the car.
The City of Greater Bendigo's Terry Karamaloudis thanked the community for embracing the festival and for cooperating with directions during the parade, which is in its 149th year.
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