More than 20,000 people joined a parade held by a pro-Beijing group yesterday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the handover - but a further 1,000 were barred from taking part by police. After waiting as long as three hours at the starting point at the Happy Valley Racecourse, they were told they would not be allowed to march because they did not have enough time to complete the walk to Wan Chai before the official finishing time of 2pm. Hong Kong Celebrations Association executive director Cheng Yiu-tong said about 25,000 people joined the walk to the Southorn Playground. 'But about 1,000 participants - the last group scheduled to join the parade - were not allowed to join the event as the police said it was too late for them to start the walk,' Mr Cheng said. The parade began about 11.15am. Mr Cheng said most of those affected were teachers and representatives from private companies. 'Some of them were quite upset, as they had waited at the racecourse for hours.' He believed the police made the decision because they wanted to keep the timing right so that the annual July 1 democracy rally would not be affected. Apart from the usual lion and dragon dance, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also joined the parade with 58 dogs. Earlier, parade participants enjoyed a variety show at the racecourse, but it was delayed by almost 30 minutes because of bad weather. 'The PLA [paratroopers] had thought of giving up. They set off from Shek Kong Barracks early in the morning and kept circling around in Causeway Bay for hours to monitor the weather conditions,' Mr Cheng said. About 50 paratroopers from the award-winning People's Liberation Army's 8-1 Parachute Brigade and four local parachutists made descents at heights of 600 to 2,200 metres. Jumpers spread the national flag and those of the special administrative region, the PLA, and PLA air force in the sky, and lit thousands of firecrackers to open their long-awaited show on a high note. They also fired sparkling red and green flash shells and spiralled down to form rings of red smoke. Hundreds of the PLA's Hong Kong garrison soldiers also staged an action-packed kung fu performance, along with some singing and dancing shows by local and mainland groups. Paratrooper and First Lieutenant Feng Jie said he was a bit carried away by the audience's overwhelming response. 'It was my first time parachuting in Hong Kong,' said Lieutenant Feng, who acted as a golden dragon in the performance. '[The audience] were very passionate.' He said the skyscrapers around the racecourse had made their performance more challenging. 'There are many buildings nearby, and the hills around are quite high,' he said. 'We had to be very careful and cautious when we skydived.'