Bert Newton isn’t just king of Melbourne’s Moomba Festival, he’s also king of the kids.
Almost 100,000 people lined the streets to cheer on the annual parade on Monday morning, with warm weather bringing out Victorian families.
Children flocked to see Newton, whose own grandchildren sat on his diamond-shaped float with his wife Patti, and Moomba queen Lucy Durack.
Nancy Demaio, 75, who has been going to Moomba regularly for 55 years, said the festival was much bigger than it used to be.
“Now it’s more people, especially with the children,” Mrs Demaio said.
It might feel like Newton is the perennial king of Melbourne’s Moomba festival, but today was only his second time wearing the crown.
Newton was the first Moomba king to call Melbourne home when he was crowned in 1978.
He said seeing the children enjoying the parade was a highlight.
“(Melbourne) is a city of family traditions and family values, and it’s great to be part of that,” Newton said.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle estimated a crowd of up to 90,000.
“Moomba is still the biggest community festival in Australia and people love a parade in Melbourne,” he told Fairfax Radio.
Cr Doyle praised Newton for the reaction he inspired.
“He’s not just the king of Moomba he’s the king of Melbourne, really,” Cr Doyle said.
The parade featured more than 2000 participants including dancers, gymnasts, martial artists and musicians.
Floats included a 60th celebration cake, a giant jester and the lord mayor’s favourite float – Daisy the Cow, designed by five-year-old contest winner Laticia.
Cr Doyle said nearly one million people would enjoy Moomba events over the long weekend.