THEY lined up three and four deep almost the entire length of Auburn Street.
People craned their necks, children perched on parents’ shoulders and the elderly set up seats to see Goulburn’s 150th birthday parade spectacular.
Organisers who’d put months of planning into Saturday’s street procession were astounded by the public turnout. It rivalled Lilac City festival parades of the 1950s and some were estimating up to 9000 people descended on the CBD for the event.
“It’s bigger than the Gay Mardi Gras!” 2GB Continuous Call commentator Darryl Brohman declared.
Well perhaps not that big or gay, but it was certainly a joyous and colourful occasion.
The parade was another highlight of this week’s celebrations, marking 150 years since Goulburn was declared a city by Royal Letters Patent.
It drew 180 organisations, businesses and community groups comprising more than 1000 people and took the crowd on a walk through our history. Observers quipped that half the city was watching the parade while the other half were participating.
Four planes shot overhead in formation, heralding its start.
People donned costumes reflecting the various eras, Wendel Rosewarne pedalled past with faithful dog Max, emergency services and volunteers strutted their stuff and children waved from vehicles and heavily decorated floats.
A festive and proud air floated over a city that was busting for a party.
After the procession, which lasted one hour and 20 minutes, the crowd descended on Belmore Park to listen to the Continuous Call team and enjoy performances, stalls and the Biggest Kids Party.
Mayor Geoff Kettle said crowd numbers were reminiscent of the Lilac City processions in the 1960s and 1970s but he was taken aback nevertheless.
“It was just phenomenal!” he told the Post.
“Just the coming together as one and being proud of ourselves…I think Goulburn has been working toward something like this for a long time to reinvigorate itself and give us something to be proud of.”
Cr Kettle said he’d been expecting a big crowd as the parade was heavily promoted and every 150th event so far had been well attended.
He praised the publicity extended by Ray Hadley and his team who conducted interviews throughout the day about the city.
“You can’t buy it and the relationship I have with these guys professionally is very good,” the Mayor said.
“Ray said he loved the area and loved promoting Goulburn and anytime I wanted to promote the city, all I had to do was ring up.”
Cr Kettle said 150th committee chairwoman Cr Carol James and numerous volunteers deserved a big thankyou for their efforts.
Police, council staff and marshals were also on hand to manage traffic.
Cr James said she was thrilled with the crowd and the way the community supported the event.
“I’m grateful to the committee for all their hard work and how the council and community got behind it,” she said yesterday.
“It really was a city party. Our idea was to make it as inclusive as possible, so anyone who turned up at the last minute and wanted to participate was not turned away.
Cr James noted that many people stayed around in the park for the twilight carnival and concert. Cr Kettle said hundreds also turned up for the fireworks display from St Saviour’s Cathedral on Saturday night, for which police closed off surrounding streets.
The festivities continued yesterday with the Riversdale Vintage Fair, Windellama markets, Waterworks Festival, a return 3016 steam train trip to Canberra, ‘Evolution of the Quilts’ at Mandelson’s, open day at Ss Peter and Paul’s Cathedral and a church service at St Saviour’s Cathedral in the afternoon.
Today sees the launch of Seniors Week at the Goulburn Workers Club at 11am where the Senior Citizen of the Year will be announced. Cr James is guest speaker.
On Thursday the Men’s Shed will hold a display and on Friday South Hill Gallery hosts the Benny O Illusion and Magic Show.
It doesn’t stop there – the weekend is bursting at the seams with staple events such as the Brewery Markets, Goulburn Speedway, the Classic Car Club and ‘A Taste of Greece Dinner Dance’ at the Goulburn Workers, all on Saturday night.
Cr Kettle said he was busy with official events but was still getting on with other council business.
“I feel extremely proud and lucky to be mayor,” he said.
For more information about the 150th birthday calendar see http://goulburn150.org.au/