SHE'S COME A LONG WAY: Jacaranda Jill in her starring role at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, during which John Paul Young performed his hit song  Love is in the Air  and which was broadcast to millions of homes around the world.
SHE'S COME A LONG WAY: Jacaranda Jill in her starring role at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, during which John Paul Young performed his hit song Love is in the Air and which was broadcast to millions of homes around the world. JULIAN SMITH

Supersized cult Aussie favourite to headline Jaca parade

THE newest addition to this year's Jacaranda float procession will feature a cult Aussie favourite whose previous starring role was as part of the closingceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

A giant Kewpie doll will take centre stage at not only the upcoming procession but will keep a watchful eye over Market Square for the duration of the festival.

And she'll be back for many festivals to come, according to organisers, who have named the doll Jacaranda Jill.

"She's 6m tall so you won't miss her,” festival manager Mark Blackadder said.

He said there were just a few days left for businesses, schools, charity and community groups to register their spot in this year's float procession.

"I hope Jill encourages people to get cracking with their entries,” he said.

Designed by Brian Thomson and mounted on a steel-base trolley, each of the 12 kewpie dolls produced featured in the final moments of the Games alongside ballroom dancing couples as John Paul Young paid homage to the Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom.

A popular fairground souvenir, the Kewpie doll was also chosen as a nod to Ray Lawler's classic Australian drama The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

Newcastle Permanent Grafton Jacaranda Float Procession is one of the festival's hallmark spectacles.

This year's will take place on Saturday, November 2, and is expected to attract a wide variety of colourful entries.

"While there's a lot of planning and work involved, being part of a float in the Jacaranda Festival is a highlight for many people and a great opportunity to be able to showcase their business or community group in a festive, feel-good environment,” he said.

"It's not too late to get involved in an event that really brings the town together and showcases the very best of community spirit.”

Entry forms Newcastle Permanent Building Society or downloaded from www.jacarandafestival.com.