The procession made its way through the city in time, culminating in a fireworks display in Moore Park.
Afterwards, 17,000 people attended a nightly dance at the Showground.
The parade organizers also held a special memorial event with a one-minute shouting session — instead of the traditional minute of silence — for AIDS victims.
Nearly 100 police officers and 500 trained marshals worked to ensure the smooth passage of the floats through the streets.
Surry Hills patrol commander Ken Beggs said last night’s Mardi Gras was the most organized parade in the country.
Transport authorities also deployed an additional 40 buses and doubled the number of carriages on most of the city trains to transport the parade crowds.
LOUD AND PROUD AND TASTY – A PARADE FIT FOR QUEENS
It was loud, it was fun, it was pride and it was tacky. It was Sydney’s biggest party of the year – the 16th and largest Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.
Amid the heat and intoxicating smells of sweat, perfume, alcohol and marijuana, an enthusiastic crowd of around 450,000 lined the streets on Saturday evening to watch the parade of nearly 100 colorful floats make its way down Oxford Street to a fireworks finale in Moore Park.
Many had waited more than three hours to get a good view, and they ooh, aah, whistle and scream all along the route.
Politicians were shadowed by a six-foot-long pink condom, a cop was chased and kissed by a drag queen, a mother cried with pride over her gay son, and moralist Fred Nile called it all a “promiscuous orgy.”
Six military veterans, participating for the first time, received a huge cheer as they carried a five-metre effigy of Victorian RSL president, Bruce Ruxton.
A small group of middle-aged men and women with a sign saying ‘Proud parents of lesbians and gays’ also received warm reactions.
Twelve MPs marched behind a group of male cheerleaders in leather G-strings, and more than 70 members of the award-winning Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir sang along the route.
“Altos go down where it counts,” read a sign.
A police officer was applauded when he finally succumbed to a tall, tenacious transvestite in a purple mesh tutu, who accepted a kiss that left his cheeks bright red with lipstick and embarrassment.
Mrs Betty Roberts, 70, from Brighton-le-Sands, was among the crowd: “Having a great time, I feel like dancing too.”
Ms Sandra Oliver, 44, from Clovelly, came with a group of friends: “We love seeing all the amazing bodies. It’s a real shame – some of these men are gorgeous.
Mr. Dennis Zhang, 26, a visitor from China, busily took pictures and said he had never seen anything like it, “It’s fantastic.”
After the two-hour parade, some 15,000 revelers continued to dance until early yesterday morning.
But for some, this Mardi Gras will be their last. From a large quiet room at 66 Oxford Street, hospital patients with AIDS-related illnesses, some near death, were given a special view of the parade.
Mardi Gras president Mrs. Susan Harben said they were “our most important guests.”
The police were more than satisfied with the procession. Thirteen people were treated for heat exhaustion, but no arrests were made.
Sydney businesses should also be pleased. Organizers say the month-long Mardi Gras festivities, culminating in the Saturday night parade, bring in about $16 million in tourist revenue.