News / Ottawa

Hundreds of thousands take in La Machine over weekend

Good weather helped bring out a larger crowd than originally expected.

(From left to right) Toronto-residents Kim Nguyen and a her brother, Richard, stop by the Supremer Court of Canada in Ottawa on Sunday, July 30, 2017 to catch La Machine. The were joined by their friend, Ivy Luu, an Ottawa resident.

Alex Abdelwahab/Metro

(From left to right) Toronto-residents Kim Nguyen and a her brother, Richard, stop by the Supremer Court of Canada in Ottawa on Sunday, July 30, 2017 to catch La Machine. The were joined by their friend, Ivy Luu, an Ottawa resident.

Ottawa resident Ivy Luu said she doesn’t often walk around her own city. But this weekend, she wanted to see La Machine.

“I like how they orchestrated it so that I guess the robots end up going in time with the music,” she said.

On Sunday, Luu was with two Toronto friends visiting Ottawa for the first time. They said seeing La Machine was a big part of their tourist experience.

“It gave us the opportunity to see various buildings, even though we saw it during the night,’ her friend Richard Nguyen said.

In fact, the team behind La Machine made five visits to the city to plan a route that would minimize impacts on vehicular traffic, and highlight Ottawa including “not just the usual sites.”

“Our main goal was to allow pedestrians … to regain control of our public places, our roads and create meeting places,” said Guy Laflamme, executive director of Ottawa 2017, adding people had to talk to each other to find the creatures because the exact route was not given out ahead of time.

By the end of the evening Sunday, Laflamme estimated there were more than 600,000 visitors over the four days, with many people making repeat trips.

In fact, Laflamme said that when he saw the large crowd at city hall on Friday he decided to order a giant TV screen for the rest of the weekend, as the crowd was so big.

“I won my gamble,” he said. “When I first presented this concept, there were lots of skeptics.”

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