THE 60th Maffra Mardi Gras, on a balmy Saturday evening, raised almost $106,000 for five community groups.
The Stratford Pony Club, represented by Holly Webb, raised the most, with $36,652, followed closely by the Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club, on $36,501.
Ms Webb said it was an amazing experience, and winning was a surprise.
“I've been able to give other kids the same opportunity to ride horses I had growing up ,” she said.
“A lot of the money will be going to update the facilities, and some of our equipment was stolen, so it’ll buy new equipment.
“Honestly, I thought they’d only read out four names and they’d forgotten me (on stage).”
The Stratford Football-Netball Club raised more than $25,000, followed by Our Haven Wildlife Shelter on $4800, and the Maffra Scout Group on $2700.
Maffra Rotary Club president Graeme Hemming said it was the closest numbers between first and second he’d ever seen.
“To raise $106,000 in this district, and to have two clubs out of Stratford raising $70,000 or so, is a good effort,” he said.
“(My highlight was), I think, the closeness of the top three, they did that in six weeks, and the crowd really got behind it, it’s a great community event for 60 years.
“You just have to look at the Pony Club’s faces to see how happy they all are.”
The parade, with more than 20 floats and displays, included Maffra stalwarts like the Maffra and District Car Club and Gippsland Vehicle Collection, as well as the Maffra CWA, which won best community float.
Boisdale Consolidated School won the best school float, handing out four leaf clovers to the crowd in the spirit of St Patrick’s Day, while best overall float went to the Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club.
It was noted it may be the last time the Mardi Gras featured a Murray Goulburn milk truck with Devondale branding.