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Australia Mardi Gras revellers descend on SCG as excitement builds ahead of COVID-safe parade

10:17  06 march  2021
10:17  06 march  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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a woman standing in front of a colorful wall: Spirits are high at the SCG ahead of tonight's Mardi Gras parade. (ABC News: Kevin Nguyen) © Provided by ABC News Spirits are high at the SCG ahead of tonight's Mardi Gras parade. (ABC News: Kevin Nguyen)

Tens of thousands of revellers flanked by police, security officers and notices about COVID-safety measures have filed into the Sydney Cricket Ground for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Grey clouds have not dampened the energy of the annual event, which has been moved from Oxford Street to the stadium this year due to the pandemic.

"As long as there's a queer space for us to celebrate in any form," drag queen Twiggy Styx said.

Crowds are observing COVID-19 measures and are being filtered into the venue in batches to avoid overcrowding

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"I'm excited that there was still the protest down Oxford Street and we have this as well," Lady Fur said.

The 2020 Mardi Gras marked the last public mass gathering before COVID lockdowns were introduced in March last year. And tonight's is the first event since restrictions have been lifted.

"We bought our tickets last minute," Ash Young from Penrith said.

"This is our first Mardi Gras so we don't know what to expect, but we've already seen so many people in amazing costumes."

This is the 33rd year iconic group Dykes on Bikes will lead the march, but COVID-19 has taken its toll on its membership and participation numbers.

"We usually have 150 to 200 bikes for the parade," group president Emily Saunders said.

"This year we have 68 bikes."

Ms Saunders said while numbers were down, enthusiasm remained high.

"I can't express how much this day means to me and how much this group means to me," she said.

"They were with me for some of the hardest parts of my life, so to be able to lead them out is everything."

The main parade is expected to kick off at 6:00pm AEDT.

More to come

'I want Anzac Day on': PM Morrison .
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he wants Anzac Day commemorations to go ahead this year as veterans complain the Sydney march has been capped at 500.The prime minister was asked about the plan to restrict Sydney's Anzac Day march to just 500 veterans, despite NSW clocking up 51 consecutive COVID-free days.

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