Politics met parody with a little help from Hollywood and local stars as the community sent off the Mardi Gras season in spectacular style at last Saturday’s parade.

New Mardi Gras estimated 300,000 people lined the parade route along Oxford and Flinders Streets to cheer on the march and its I Believe theme.

The figure -“ taken from a new crowd-counting system based on the number of barriers erected -“ was slightly down on last year, but chair Marcus Bourget said organisers were delighted with the turnout.

We were expecting a large crowd and we were expecting a large crowd to have fun, he told Sydney Star Observer.

What is clear is that the parade route was absolutely jam-packed with lots of spectators, so we’re very happy.

Traditional favourites Dykes on Bikes warmed up the crowd, followed by the chief of parade, opera singer Deborah Cheetham and her family, before about 110 floats made their way through the streets.

This year’s march was divided into chapters including I Believe in Love, I Believe in Equality and I Believe in Courage, I Believe in Hope.

As always, politics was a recurring theme. The lead float, New Mardi Gras’ Ship of Fools led by a parody of John Howard, took aim a decade of Liberal government.

Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore celebrated 20 years of parade involvement, while The Greens, the Democrats and Rainbow Labor called for gay equality.

Celebrity also proved a memorable inspiration. Floats including the wacky Brokeback Mormons entry paid tribute to gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain while sending up conservative attacks on the film.

Stars were also a winner on the C-FLAG (Celebrities and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) float, featuring local luminaries such as Molly Meldrum and Bessie Bardot.

Another celebrity -“ supermodel Kate Moss -“ inspired the Kate Moss Line Dancers float, whose marchers tried to snort painted white lines on Oxford Street under an I Believe in Rehab banner.

The Rainbow Babies and Kids float, complete with youngsters on scooters and an I Believe in Fairies theme, was also a crowd favourite.

The parade blew me away. The quality of every single entry was just fantastic, the reaction of the crowd was tremendous, Bourget said.

The Mardi Gras magic is back.

After the parade, about 15,800 people headed to Moore Park for a near sell-out Mardi Gras party.

Revellers enjoyed shows from stars such as gay Scottish singer Jimmy Somerville and local TV personality Erika Heynatz.

Sales fell 200 tickets short of the 16,000 capacity, but Bourget said New Mardi Gras had absolutely no complaints about the event, which made a profit.

It’s a fantastic result.

New Mardi Gras plans to release the season’s full financial results by the end of the month.

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