Stars come out for Mardi Gras Parade and Party
The Sydney Mardi Gras Festival has come to a close for yet another year following a weekend of parties and a colourful parade on Saturday night which, despite heavy rain and wild winds at times, drew an estimated 300,000 spectators, including singer Kylie Minogue, actor Magda Szubanski and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell.
Over 9,000 people took part in the procession with 120 floats each in their own way spreading a message of equality and ‘Infinite Love’ down Oxford Street and surrounding areas.
About 130 dancers took part in the K25 float as a tribute to Minogue with elements of the float made up with Swarovski crystals.
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) CEO, Michael Rolik said the float was a way of giving thanks to this year’s special guest.
“It was just one of a myriad of amazing entrants that made this year’s parade one of the most exhilarating we’ve ever seen,” he said.
Pictured: Kylie addressing the crowd at the Mardi Gras Parade. Photo: Daniel Boud
As always, the Dykes on Bikes led the colourful procession of floats with the roar of motorcycles soon giving way to blasts of Kylie and Rihanna and an array of sequins, angel wings and leather as community groups, social groups, religious groups as well as emergency services workers, police and members of the Defence Force took to the parade route.
One float was dedicated to Margaret Court, with the former world number one tennis player turned evangelical pastor copping a serve for her recent railing against same-sex marriage.
Religious and ethnic minorities were well represented at the parade, with contingents including the Filipino community, members of Sydney’s Indian and Hindu communities, Muslims Against Homophobia, Dayenu, Freedom2b[e] and the Asian marching boys.
Transgender icon Carmen Rupe, who only passed away last December, was honoured with a float featuring plenty of her friends dressed in the loud red and bright colours favoured by the trans-Tasman legend.
Crowd favourites included the displays put on by the LifeSavers with Pride as well as the choreographed dance steps of their cossie-wearing friends at the Sydney Stingers water polo club.
Politicians who were spotted taking part included Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, federal Labor MPs Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek, and NSW state counterparts Carmel Tebbutt, Penny Sharpe and Linda Burney on Rainbow Labor’s marriage equality float, while prominent Liberal MP Bruce Notley-Smith was on the GLBTI Liberals float as was City of Sydney councillor Shayne Mallard.
“I think Mardi Gras is a great opportunity to remember how far we have come in Australia but it’s also a reminder that there’s some things still to do,” Plibersek said, who brought her two children to the parade.
“It’s going to be an important, continuing struggle and I wanted to show my support for marriage equality by being here today.”
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was a part of the Australian Marriage Equality float along with gay rights activist Carl Katter.
Organisers have hailed the success of the festival’s weekend parties, with an estimated 15,000 revellers packing the Entertainment Quarter for the after-party, MardiGrasland.
Magda Szubanski, who recently came out as gay addressed the crowd at midnight, flanked by Australian Marriage Equality's Alex Greenwich and Sydney Mardi Gras Chair Peter Urmson.
Minogue performed a 2am set featuring a medley of some of her hits including 'Better the Devil You Know', 'Locomotion' and 'All The Lovers', while the likes of Chicane and Sneaky Sound System also got crowds into the party spirit before Sam Sparro closed off the morning’s festivities.
Pictured: Magda Szubanski (centre) with Australian Marriage Equality's Alex Greenwich and Sydney Mardi Gras Chair Peter Urmson. Photo: Jason Nichol
The revived Sunday morning Laneway recovery party next to the Beresford Hotel was also well attended.
It is believed more than 20,000 overseas and interstate visitors came to enjoy Sydney Mardi Gras this year, with Destination NSW estimating the state economy benefitting by approximately $30 million.
Police reported crowds were well behaved with only 13 arrests throughout the CBD, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.
Pictured: Kylie at the Mardi Gras Party. Photo: Robert McGrath
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