A Tale of Two Weekends in Ottawa
La Machine had the legend of Long Ma and Kumo, Kumo who had been sleeping underground in Ottawa because of the LRT construction. Here I think the City is trying to get good mileage out of the Rideau sinkhole. For Canada Day the legendary Gordon Lightfoot performed, but no one out side of the few thousand on Parliament Hill would know it, the CBC did not air any of his performances. For the finale of La Machine, CBC live streamed the final chapter of the duel between the mechanical marionettes.
500,000, as in 500,000 people are coming! The federal government estimated that half a million people would be in Ottawa for Canada Day – uh no that did not happen. Actuals were much lower. Parliament Hill can accommodate up to 31,000 people – estimates that for the two Parliament Hill performances there were 57,000. Where the other 450,000 were no one had a clear idea. The city was much fuller, and alive, during the last weekend with La Machine. The City of Ottawa changed their estimates of people attending the many performances at 300,000. By Sunday afternoon, Ottawa raised the estimate to 500,000 would see part of any of the four day act. By Monday morning Ottawa 2017 Executive Director Guy LaFlamme raised those numbers to 750,000. Is it any wonder restaurants were closing because they ran out of food during the weekend; we didn’t hear that for Canada Day.
Security and road closures; we all know about the Canada Day corrals and the fiasco they ended up being. There were no such security measures for La Machine, in fact security was barely noticeable – and isn’t the way it should be? Much of the same road closures were in place. The grumbling was much less for La Machine, are Ottawans getting used to it?
La Machine is based on the historical story of a temple, now in the possession of Kumo. With a weakened Kumo now awake, Long Ma has come to Ottawa to reclaim the temple. As we look back on Canada Day, we did not commemorate our history; we did raise a glass to the great monarchs of our 150 years. Instead Canada “celebrated” by the themes of Diversity and Inclusion; Reconciliation with Indigenous people; Environment and Youth. Sure all good things, but for the Canadian Government to not recognize where this nation came from? Why call it Canada150? Just call it Canada Day.
When you consider the public perception of the two weekends you cannot compare the two. Reaction to La Machine was amazing, social media was lit up with photos, videos and positive comments that #Canada150 programming could only imagine. The lack of security was a plus, freedom to move without having bags checked was liberating for everyone. #Canada150 expectations were so high, there was no way they could be met. Ottawa 2017 under promised and over delivered and the City was rewarded was a good feeling that erased memories of the opening weekend of the month.
When January 1, 2018 comes and we look back at the year past, it won’t be the rain soaked lawns of Parliament Hill that come to mind; it will be the grand success of Ottawa 2017 Executive Director Guy LaFlamme we’ll think of and wonder when will Ottawa be invaded again?
Photos and Videos courtesy of @VideoManOttawa, Danno Saunt