Liverpool Giants: Thousands welcome marionettes to city

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Media captionA giant grandma set off in search of her giant granddaughter and giant pet dog Xolo on Friday morning

An estimated 100,000 people lined Liverpool's streets to welcome three giant marionettes, which tell the story of the city during World War One.

The huge figures began the Memories of August 1914 commemoration at 10:30 BST.

The show features a grandmother, a little girl and a dog. They will visit many of the city's landmarks, including the Three Graces.

Culture Liverpool director Claire McColgan said the show and huge crowds were "creating history".

Image copyright AP
Image caption The girl was awoken with a lick from her dog Xolo

During Wednesday and Thursday, about 30,000 people visited the grandmother figure lying, as if asleep, at St George's Hall.

Crowds queued for more than an hour in the heat to view the 25ft (7.5m) marionette.

The girl began to "wake up" at 10:30 and to walk through the city with her dog Xolo.

Their route took them them from Queensway Tunnel, through the city centre to the Chinese Arch.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The grandmother giant was walked along the waterfront by her puppeteers
Image copyright AP
Image caption Xolo the dog was a hit with the crowds, with some onlookers even getting to give him a pat

The grandmother left St George's Hall at 11:00 for a waterfront walk and arrived at Salthouse Dock in the early afternoon.

She was moved again at 16:30 from the Albert Dock and along the waterfront, before heading up Brownlow Hill and Mount Pleasant past the Roman Catholic Cathedral up to Edge Hill and Kensington on the way to at Newsham Park.

Her departure was delayed by about an hour after her head came lose when she broke wind.

Once her head was secured she was moved in her wheelchair to meet the little girl and xolo.

Little girl and xolo left the Chinese Arch at 17:00 to go through Canning Street past Falkner Square and the Anglican Cathedral and into Edge Hill, arriving at Newsham Park at about 20:30.

The Giants were reunited in the park as little girl sat beside grandmother to listen to her tell a story involving meteors and killing dinosaurs.

Grandmother finished by saying she was off to bed and would continue "her great adventure" the next day.


Ms McColgan said the city had "come out in force to see something incredible and we're delighted".

"It's such a brilliant atmosphere and it's creating history."

Les and Margaret Holmes, of Wallasey, watched the little girl and xolo with their grandchildren Ellis, nine, and Isabella, seven.

Image caption The grandmother took a brief rest stop during her walk

Mrs Holmes said: "I got a little bit tearful actually - it brings to mind World War One and everything that happened.

"My mum was born in 1921 and my dad in 1922, so it's very poignant."

Jenny Moran, from the Wirral, was in the crowd with her two-year-old son, Robert, and parents Ruth and Dave Wilcoxon.

Jenny said the weather had been perfect and the spectacle was "giving me goosebumps".

"It's amazing - not only the giants themselves, but the way the crowd has reacted to them is just magical."

Eileen Schofield, from Leek, said it was "so lovely to see the people of Liverpool embrace the Giants".

"The highlight for us will be the grandmother spitting, farting and drinking."

Royal de Luxe, the French street theatre company behind the spectacle, said the figures would cover 30 miles in total over the weekend.

A section of the event will be dedicated to the World War One Liverpool Pals battalions.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thousands of people gathered to see the Little Girl Giant
Image caption The girl has made some of her journey sitting on an old car

Hundreds of thousands of people saw the last Giants event in 2012, which commemorated the sinking of the Titanic.

This year's event, which runs until Sunday, will end with the three giants sailing away on the River Mersey.

BBC News Online will be following the giants through Liverpool with live text coverage, pictures and video of events. For more details, visit the BBC's dedicated Liverpool Giants page.

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