Marionettes as tall as houses march along Montreal streets during 375th birthday bash

Giant marionettes are taking over parts of Montreal starting this morning, with a larger-than-life street performance as part of the city’s 375th anniversary bash.

The two five-storey-high marionettes, made by a French company, are making their Montreal debut. They’ll wind their way through streets and along the river for three days. 

The performance began this morning in Montreal’s Jeanne-Mance Park with Little Girl-Giant waking up in front of hundreds of people.

Little Girl-Giant sleeping Jeanne-Mance Park

Little Girl-Giant was fast asleep with her dog in Jeanne-Mance park Friday morning. The marionettes will overnight in the Maison Radio-Canada parking lot over the next few days. (Melissa François/Radio-Canada)

Little Girl-Giant and Deep Sea Diver will also interact with onlookers as they explore the city and play out their story. Organizers also promise a few surprises along the way.

“They not only walk the city, they create scenes which allow them to tell their stories,” said Martin Bolduc, executive producer of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations.

Deep Sea Diver Les Geants, The Giants

On Friday, the Deep Sea Diver will begin his march from the Montreal Science Centre around 4 p.m. (Pascal Victor ArtComPress/Royal de Luxe)

The marionettes, called The Giants, were created by Royal de Luxe.

They can move easily due to a mix of mechanics, hydraulics and people pulling strings. Each marionette requires a team of about 30 people to help them move their arms and legs as they stroll about.

At night, you see their chest moving, like they are breathing — that I must admit is a mechanical thing,” Bolduc says.

“But most of it is literally human beings making them move.”

Where they’ll wander

The marionettes will move at an average speed of 2.25 km/h through the Gay Village, Old Port and downtown Montreal.

After starting the day in Jeanne-Mance Park, Little Girl-Giant will head down de Maisonneuve Boulevard before travelling back east near Place d’Armes for a nap. She will then head to bed outside Gare Viger, the historic former railway station and hotel on Viger Street, around 6:20 p.m. ET.

The Deep Sea Diver will begin his march from the Montreal Science Centre around 4 p.m. and move through the Old Port until it goes to sleep at Radio-Canada around 6:15 p.m.

The marionettes will finally roam together on Sunday.

The event will wrap up Sunday evening with a parade and celebrations at CBC/Radio-Canada, where the Giants will sleep in the parking lot at the end of their routes.

Organizers also encourage people to walk, bike or take public transit to see the Giants since some streets will be closed to car traffic.

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