Sum­mer is over; the party is over too!

Montreal Times - - Front Page - By Ser­gio Martinez mtl­times.ca

Asum­mer in our city that wasn't the best on the weather front, but when it comes to cel­e­bra­tions, no­body can com­plain. The 375th an­niver­sary of Mon­treal was lav­ishly cel­e­brated, Canada's sesqui­cen­ten­nial got a de­cent com­mem­o­ra­tion as well and even the 50th an­niver­sary of Expo de­served some cock­tail par­ties and fond re­mem­brances from those who were young then.

But now the party is over, and it is the time to do some bal­ance: Mon­treal spent over a bil­lion dol­lar in the cel­e­bra­tion of its 375th an­niver­sary. Some of the events were good, some of the money ded­i­cated to that birth­day is be­ing ques­tioned, and most likely many of those ex­penses will be­come an is­sue in the up­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion in Novem­ber. What was the best and the worst of the Mon­treal cel­e­bra­tions? Here are some of my re­flec­tions on the sub­ject.

If I have to high­light the best of all the events mark­ing the 375 years of Mon­treal, I will not hes­i­tate to pick the per­for­mance by the Gi­ant Mar­i­onettes, an out­door and free event that at­tracted thou­sands of spec­ta­tors.The brain­child of French di­rec­tor and ac­tor Jean-Luc Cour­coult, the Lit­tle Gi­ant, the Deep Sea Diver, and the gi­ant dog, cap­ti­vated the au­di­ence with their well-syn­chro­nized walk around down­town Mon­treal demon­strated at the same time grace and power.

The per­for­mance by the gi­ant mar­i­onettes dis­played artis­tic cre­ativ­ity and tech­no­log­i­cal abil­ity. It was a great event to cel­e­brate the city with the ad­di­tional el­e­ment of be­ing ac­ces­si­ble to all au­di­ences.

The se­cond best event was Cité Mé­moire that pro­jected var­i­ous seg­ments of the his­tory of Mon­treal on the walls of some build­ings in the Old Mon­treal area. Par­tic­u­larly spec­tac­u­lar was the pre­sen­ta­tion on the large wall of the Palais de Jus­tice, high­light­ing the his­tory of Mon­treal from the time of its abo­rig­i­nal in­hab­i­tants to the present day. This se­ries of pro­jec­tions was an event that pro­vided a much-needed view of the his­tory not only of the city but also of Canada and Que­bec, in a way that was at the same time en­ter­tain­ing and in­no­va­tive.

The Open Air Mu­seum, Bal­lade de la Paix, on Sher­brooke St. fea­tur­ing dif­fer­ent sam­ples of mod­ern pub­lic art cre­ated a de­light­ful am­bi­ence around that street. Flags from each of the ex­ist­ing in­de­pen­dent coun­tries from all over the world con­trib­uted to give the ex­hibit an in­ter­na­tional flavour, al­though the art works were just from fewer of a dozen coun­tries.Al­though the sight of mul­ti­coloured flags is al­ways some­how fes­tive, some may ar­gue that such dis­play wasn't nec­es­sary. (And peo­ple from Kosovo have pointed out that the flag of their coun­try wasn't there, de­spite be­ing an in­de­pen­dent na­tion since 2008 rec­og­nized by Canada). This out­door ex­hibit was put to­gether by McGill Univer­sity and the Mon­treal Mu­seum of Fine Arts.

As for the worst or at least the event that was the most mis­placed, the nom­i­na­tion should go to the For­mula E race. It seems that when Mayor De­nis Coderre comes with some fixed idea in his mind, there is no way to make him change it, even if there are over­whelm­ing rea­sons for that. Hold­ing the elec­tric cars race on var­i­ous streets in the east­ern part of down­town added to the al­ready high cost of bring­ing the event to Mon­treal (al­legedly 24 mil­lion), since it was nec­es­sary to in­stall stands for the spec­ta­tors and a few el­e­vated pas­sages for peo­ple in the area. Res­i­dents in the sec­tor were the most in­con­ve­nienced and un­happy with the race: they were prac­ti­cally locked up in their neigh­bour­hoods with great dif­fi­cul­ties to go shop­ping or reach the metro sta­tion to go to work.The lo­ca­tion cho­sen for the race is hard to un­der­stand con­sid­er­ing that Mon­treal has in the Cir­cuit Gilles Vil­leneuve a far more ap­pro­pri­ate venue for this type of events.

Be­sides th­ese spe­cial events, the usual fes­ti­vals de­liv­ered once more high­qual­ity per­for­mances, from the Fran­coFolies to the Jazz Fes­ti­val, to Just for Laughs, to Fan­ta­sia, to Nuits d'Afrique, and clos­ing the sea­son th­ese days the World Film Fes­ti­val. They all man­aged to sat­isfy both the lo­cal pub­lic and the many tourists who visit Mon­treal ev­ery year. Yeah, the weather was so-so, but the party was great!

Top:The Lit­tle Gi­ant was the best event in the Mon­treal 375 cel­e­bra­tion (Right): Canada 150th an­niver­sary was also cel­e­brated with en­thu­si­asm, es­pe­cially

among some eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties

Cité Mé­moire pre­sented an in­no­va­tive look at his­tory

One of the cars that par­tic­i­pated at the For­mula E race.A ma­jor event this sum­mer,

but a con­tro­ver­sial one

Open Air Mu­seum pro­vided a view

into mod­ern pub­lic art

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