La Machine roars life into Ottawa businesses

Sparks and ByWard business get major boost from robot battle
La Machine
Long Ma the Dragon Horse stares at his foe Kumo, a giant spider, from atop the Mackenzie King Bridge. (Photo by Alex Abdelwahab / Metro)

Long Ma the dragon horse wasn’t the only winner in the four-day-long march of La Machine through Ottawa as downtown businesses were packed with customers. 

La Machine’s epic battle ended Sunday evening on the grounds of the War Museum. And Ottawa 2017 estimates 750,000 spectators took in the event between Thursday and Sunday.

Kevin McHale of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area said it was a very successful weekend for businesses there.

“A couple of my merchants said it was similar to a Canada Day weekend. I had one merchant tell me it was her best Saturday since she opened a year and a half ago.”

He said the huge turnout was more than anyone on Sparks envisioned. 

“Everyone is pleasantly surprised at how big it was. I think maybe some merchants were unprepared for how big it was going to be, but that’s a good problem to have.”

He said a great part of the event was people were out checking out the city. 

“You did go exploring downtown, because you weren’t sure where they were going to be next.”

Jasna Jennings, executive director of the ByWard Market Business Improvement Association, released an open letter applauding organizers for La Machine.

She echoed McHale’s thoughts that the event had got people into the downtown again.

“Literally hundreds of locals commented to us that they never or rarely visit downtown. La Machine was the catalyst to play tourist in your own town and to remember how exciting and much fun downtown is.”

She added the events was a major draw for out-of-town guests.

“We encountered tourists from far and wide. People from around the world who shared that La Machine was the reason they chose Ottawa as the place to visit this summer.”

Bringing La Machine to Ottawa was budgeted to cost $3.5 million paid for through Ottawa 2017, which is a mixture of private sponsorship dollars and government funds.

This article originally appeared in Metro News.