With Mardi Gras’ 40th anniversary coming up, the Star Observer is taking a walk down memory lane and revisiting iconic moments in the festival’s history.


Mardi Gras’ parade at the turn of the millennium was an evening of numbers.

Despite rain threatening to disrupt the glittery affair, an estimated 500,000 people cheered on over 200 floats that carried nearly seven and a half thousand LGBTI people and their allies through the streets of Darlinghurst.

The television broadcast attracted a major 35 per cent more viewers than the second most successful pay-per-view entertainment event: a Spice Girls concert.

Roughly 10,200 people watched the online broadcast live, including 2,000 in America, 130 in Europe, 52 in Africa, and 140 in Japan.

At the time, the then-President David McLachlan said he was incredibly happy with the turnout, despite the threatening weather.

“I was thrilled with both the parade and the party,” he told the Star Observer.

“They seemed to go off as well as I could have expected – I thought the relationship between the crowd and the parade was very strong this year.”

The 2000 parade kicked off with the biblical theme ‘two by two of all flesh’, which saw a Noah’s Ark filled with same-sex animal couples fronted by a bearded, female Noah, followed by Indigenous and Reconciliation floats.

The strong Reconciliation presence was one of McLachlan’s personal highlights.

“It made a heavy impact, especially in light of the current political climate around the Reconciliation issue,” he said.

“I think it really hit the mark.”

The police reported that four people were charged with assault in separate incidents over the course of the night, three people were charged with possessing a prohibited drug, and a juvenile was charged with malicious damage.

However, while the medical team had a busy night its work was much reduced from the previous year.

People were mainly treated for alcohol and drug problems, cuts from stepping on broken glass, or trips and falls.

After the parade, large crowds headed down to the party venue at the site of the Old Sydney Showgrounds.

Huge queues formed at the entrance and many people reported it took them between 30 minutes and an hour to enter the event.

The party itself ran in eight undercover venues plus a large outdoor area, using a number of well-known local drag acts and dancers. None of them featured the usual ‘celebrity’ performers.

Speaking on this, McLachlan said it was a deliberate move to help take the party back to basics.

“I make no apology for the lack of celebrity performers,” he said.

“It’s about changing people’s expectations and going back to the basics of a dance party and community event.”

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