Horse-Dragon, Ottawa

A week ago, I would have laid good money that I’d never have a blog titled “horse-dragon.” I mean, what the heck is that, anyway?

It turns out it was one-half of a street spectacle put on in Ottawa as part of Canada’s 150th: La Machine.

The other half was a less appealing subject: a giant spider named Kumo that we first encountered perched on the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.

Kumo, the giant spider from La Machine, perched on top pf Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.

The story was that Kumo had stolen Long-Ma’s wings, and Long-Ma (not unreasonably) wanted them back. At different downtown venues through the weekend, Kumo and Long-Ma interacted, presumably to further their respective missions: keep/recover said wings. Kumo sprayed water; Long-Ma exhaled fire, snorted spray, rumbled and groaned, and batted its eyelashes, which were prodigious.

Tens of thousands of residents of the National Capital Region filled the streets, joining these two mechanical beasts, their more than two dozen handlers and choreographers, about as many crowd-control volunteers, too many police officers to count, and the ten-or-so live musicians accompanying them – in both senses – on three scissor-lifts.

At least in the small doses in which we partook, it was a fun event, although I can’t quite articulate its appeal. It was the North American premiere, which counts for something. It was unique, which also helps: I don’t expect to see giant robots in the streets ever again. But maybe the best part was that people – all kinds of people – were simply there to be delighted.

Long-Ma, the horse-dragon, in Byward Market.

Close-up of head and Long-Ma, the horse-dragon, in front of Ottawa City Hall.

See Long-Ma in action here:



This entry was posted in Photos of Built Stuff, Thinking Broadly and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Horse-Dragon, Ottawa

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – I’ve seen crowd estimates ranging from 600,000 to 750,000 spectators over the four days of La Machine. In either case, or somewhere in between, that was more spectators than for the Canada 150 weekend. That it was busier than the Canada 150 weekend is confirmed by the restaurant wait staff I know who work in the restaurants on Sparks Street.

    Overheard in the crowd. “Where are you from?” We’re from Cincinnati.” “We’re from Philadelphia.” Left me wondering how those folks heard about it and made plans to get to Ottawa, and I didn’t hear about it until the beginning of the week it started.
    John W

    The wait staff I know

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      john – It’s a good point. I didn’t hear about the spectacle until just before it (maybe not until the spider was being installed on Notre Dame Cathedral’s roof), but had attributed that to my preoccupation this summer with my mother’s death. I have no idea how come-from-aways would have heard about it.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Now those I’d go see. Marvelous technology! Thanks for sharing.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Glad you liked it. It was fun to see (although I could have passed on the spider, which moved all too realistically).

Comments are closed.