Victorian Governor Linda Dessau, Anthony Howard and Anita Jack inspecting the progress of Dai Gum Loong last week. CONTRIBUTED: Billy Potts.

A HANDING of the baton between Bendigo’s newest imperial dragon Dai Gum Loong and the retiring Sun Loong is set to be the feature of the Bendigo Easter Festival gala parade next April.

Bendigo Chinese Association president Doug Lougoon this week revealed the two dragons will converge on Bendigo’s Alexandra Fountain as part of the parade, with Sun Loong to officially welcome Dai Gum Loong and then guide the way forward, to introduce the new dragon to his home city.

It’s following a tradition that started in 1970 when the original imperial dragon, Loong, handed over to Sun Loong.

“Loong greeted Sun Loong, his first appearance was at the fountain, and then Loong showed Sun Loong across the parade route, so that will happen again (in 2019), and pay homage to that,” Mr Lougoon said.

“Sun Loong will pass to Dai Gum Loong, to go into the future.

“What we’re trying to achieve is something significant for Easter to welcome Dai Gum Loong to Bendigo.”

BCA are expecting 10 of their dragons to take to the streets for the gala parade, and announced last week that both men and women can carry four of them – Dai Gum Loong, Ping Loong, Siu Lok Loong and Gwong Loong, altering a tradition where only men could carry Bendigo’s imperial dragons.

“The decision wasn’t taken lightly, there was great debate, but it was whole-heartedly supported,” Mr Lougoon said.

While the route of the famous parade is yet to be finalised, Mr Lougoon said it is set to follow the essence of the current path along View Street, Pall Mall, and then onto Chapel and Bridge streets, with the fountain dragon stop to be the centre-piece.

It is expected, however, there will be logistical changes to the parade to respond to the increase in dragons on display, to ensure all can be viewed, especially Dai Gum Loong.

“It should be a magnificent display, with significant orchestration and configuration,” Mr Lougoon said.

Mr Lougoon said that in the first week of seeking dragon carrying volunteers, 36 people have signed up to carry Dai Gum Loong, with a 50/50 split between males and females. Seventy people are needed, with an additional 30 in reserve.

A further 16 have signed up to carry Sun Loong, and 12 for Loong. A total of 320 legs for the 10 dragons are needed.

There is expected to be a public viewing opportunity for Dai Gum Loong, with further details to be announced.

– Sam Kane