Victorian Governor Linda Dessau, Anthony Howard and Anita Jack. CONTRIBUTED: Billy Potts.

THE Bendigo Chinese Association has embraced gender equity to overturn a tradition that dictates only males can carry the City’s impressive Imperial dragons in the annual Easter gala parade.

Announcing the move this week, BCA president Doug Lougoon said Greater Bendigo’s new Imperial dragon, Dai Gum Loong, will be a champion for equal opportunity, with both women and men to carry him on his debut next Easter.

In Bendigo, traditionally women carry ‘female’ dragons and men carry ‘male’ dragons. Greater Bendigo’s previous two Imperial dragons, Sun Loong and Loong, are male and Dai Gum Loong will be also.

About 70 people are needed to carry him and a further 30 people are needed in reserve to swap with carriers to give them a rest when they need it along the parade route.

Mr Lougoon said the arrival of Dai Gum Loong was an opportunity to create a new tradition for dragon carriers in Bendigo.

“The importance of supporting equality is not lost on the Bendigo Chinese Association.”

A once-in-a-lifetime spectacle featuring a range of Chinese parading dragons is being planned for Easter 2019, and although important heritage-related permission is yet to be granted and restoration funding for some smaller parading dragons is still to be approved, the Bendigo

Chinese Association and the Golden Dragon Museum want to bring out the maximum number of dragons to support the first appearance of Dai Gum Loong.

It is expected both original Imperial dragons, Loong, and Sun Loong will lead the parade and introduce Dai Gum Loong to his new home and show him the way along the streets of central Bendigo.

It’s hoped they will be supported by Yar Loong (night dragon), Gansu Loong (dragon from Gansu), Ming Loong and Ping Loong (bright and peace dragons), Siu Lok Loong (little happy dragon), Choi Loong (competitive dragon) and Gwong Loong (shining dragon).

Approximately 320 people will be needed to carry the dragons, and women will be able to carry Dai Gum Loong, Ping Loong, Siu Lok Loong and Gwong Loong.

Golden Dragon Museum general manager Anita Jack said the 2019 Gala Parade would be a special moment in Bendigo’s history.

“I am so excited for Dai Gum Loong’s arrival and we thought there was no better way to welcome him than to plan this incredible celebration. It will be one of the best street parties Bendigo has ever seen,” Ms Jack said.

“To help make this moment memorable, we will needs lots of volunteers to bring our dragons to life. It will be a fun and rewarding job, but it will require an element of cardio fitness.”

Anyone wanting to participate in this incredible opportunity is encouraged to register at www.goldendragonmuseum.org

Dai Gum Loong will be tranported to Bendigo with support from Virgin Airlines, however a spokesman for the company yesterday confirmed Sir Richard Branson would not be able to accept an invitation to be part of the proposed Easter celebrations.