Bendigo Easter Parade, April 1 2018. Photo: Brendan McCarthy

ORGANISERS of Bendigo’s iconic Easter parade have unveiled a new route to cater for the debut of Dai Gum Loong and the expected one-off appearance of the city’s three biggest Chinese dragons.

The Easter carnival is just two weeks away, and the Sunday parade is expected to provide a highlight like no other, with huge crowds expected to line city streets to witness history in the making.

This year’s parade route will see Loong, Sun Loong and Night Dragon Yar Loong depart from the Queen Elizabeth Oval to meet Dai Gum Loong at the Alexandra Fountain.

Sun Loong will then lead Dai Gum Loong up View Street and then down again to the fountain.

The new dragon will be accompanied by two gold and silver lions who are his ‘protectors’.

At the fountain, Loong will then lead all three dragons along Pall Mall to the Golden Dragon Museum for the last section of their parade journey.

Bendigo Chinese Association president Doug Lougoon said this year’s festival, culminating in the Easter Sunday gala parade, promised to be the city’s biggest and best yet.

“If people want to be part of history, this will be the biggest contingent ever paraded by the Bendigo Chinese Association at the Easter Festival.”

Tourism and Major Events manager Terry Karamaloudis said it was important for people attending the gala parade on Sunday April 21 to be aware the route for the dragons would be slightly different from previous years because it was such an historic occasion.

“We have had to plan a very special route so that Dai Gum Loong can receive a wonderful welcome. It will also allow plenty of opportunity for spectators along the whole route to see the dragons,” Mr Karamaloudis said.

“There will be a brief delay along the parade route during the gathering of the dragons at the Alexandra Fountain. The Bendigo Chinese Association will provide entertainment while people are waiting for all of the dragons to meet at the one location.”

“The Alexandra Fountain is significant because it is where Loong met Sun Loong in 1970 for the first time.

“The decision to introduce Sun Loong to Dai Gum Loong at the same location continues an important tradition for the city and this is a great way to mark the occasion.”

Mr Lougoon said the BCA was still seeking volunteers to help carry the banners and regalia that form a significant part of the parade, and said this was an opportunity for anyone aged eight and upwards to be involved, and to witness the Easter spectacular from a unique vantage point.

Loong’s appearance is still subject to Heritage Victoria approval, but Dai Gum Loong will be unveiled for the first time today, with invited guests, donors and others associated with the Dai Gum Loong 750 fundraising project invited to a community unveiling this evening.

The event will include a lion dance performance and official speeches.