Entering to the sound of clashing drums and cymbals, Sammy the Dragon heralded the start of Broome's biggest annual cultural celebration, Shinju Matsuri, with a noisy and colourful display.
In Chinese tradition, the wood-and-painted cloth dragon chased the "pearl of wisdom" through Broome's main streets, bestowing blessings and good fortune on a town that has struggled with a tourism downturn.
There were few signs of doom and gloom among participants, who have worked hard to revitalise the event as one to bind the community together and show off the best of Broome arts and culture.
Japanese for Festival of the Pearl, Shinju Matsuri originated from three festivals - the Japanese Obon Matsuri, Malaysian Hari Merdeka and Chinese Hang Seng.
The combined event, now in its 42nd year, celebrates Broome's multiculturalism stemming from its early days as a bustling, world-renowned producer of pearl shells and, later, South Sea pearls.
Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Timorese, Filipino and European fortune hunters all flocked to Broome from the late 1800s, blending with the indigenous population to create a melting pot of cultures.
Shinju Matsuri president Jillian Philp said this year there was a renewed focus on Chinatown, still the beating heart of Broome even though the luggers have long gone.
Highlights include dragon boat races at Town Beach this morning, with silver medal-winning Olympic rower Sarah Tait a surprise addition to the teams.
Rob Broadfield, food editor of _The West Australian _, will be the star guest at a long table lunch today, as six Broome restaurants serve Asian-inspired fare delivered by rickshaws.
Broome's traditional owners, the Yawuru people, will host a range of events, using story-telling, film, dance and song to showcase their culture.
A gala ball at the Roebuck Bay Hotel, featuring Grammy Award-winning Lucky Oceans with the Zydecats, will be held on Friday.Events will conclude a week tomorrow, when Sammy the Dragon goes back to sleep.
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