The Kelpies have been the toast of New York during Scotland Week as the district’s latest tourist attraction prepares to be unveiled.
While the official opening of the two giant steel sculptures takes place at the Helix Park in Falkirk next Thursday, a pair of 15-foot high models have been taking the Big Apple by storm.
Located in the city’s Bryant Park, the scaled version of the 100-foot tall horses has been attracting interest from New Yorkers and visitors in town for the tartan celebrations.
However, the team accompanying the models said The Kelpies were also acting as ambassadors for the district.
Pete Reid, Falkirk Council’s growth and investment unit manager, said: “The reception we have had has been unbelievable. It has helped raise the profile of Falkirk as an area to invest in and visit which is very welcome.
“It has definitely put the district in the spotlight as an area which is forging ahead with economic regeneration and definitely one to be watched.
“Everywhere we go, people are talking about the impact of The Kelpies and they are proving to be a huge attraction in Bryant Park.”
Also in the delegation are Helix programme director Mike King, Scottish Canals director of operations David Lamont and Kelpies sculptor Andy Scott.
Businesses which have accompanied them include Clark Eriksson, Macdonald Hotels, Eden Consultancy, Forth Ports and Clan Italia, while others including confectioner Mrs Tilly’s and Scotbadge Ltd have provided promotional giveaways.
Pete added: “We’ve also been supported by Ernst and Young, who we worked closely with on the TIF (Tax Increment Funding) bid. Our diary has been packed with meetings and seminars, and at all of these we have been greatly encouraged by the knowledge people already have about Falkirk and the keen interest in the area.
“We spoke with businesses operating cruises which currently dock at Leith and Rosyth and they definitely want to put Falkirk on the map for their day trips. The Helix and Kelpies, five star Callendar House and the Falkirk Wheel all make it a place they want to bring their passengers.”
Scotland Week 2014 comprised business, cultural and tourism engagements for Scottish Government Ministers, business leaders and key industry stakeholders. They took part in a diverse programme of Scottish inspired events and activities.
The Falkirk delegation were also represented in the Tartan Day Parade, walking down Sixth Avenue behind a banner emblazoned with Falkirk and The Kelpies.
Pete said: “The warm reception we received from the crowd was quite amazing. There were even people shouting ‘Bairns’ and they really seemed to identify with The Kelpies.
“Afterwards we went to Bryant Park and met pupils from a school who had been studying The Kelpies in their lessons. When we introduced them to Andy Scott the kids were stunned.
“We donated the banner that we had walked with and hope to speak to education services about some kind of link-up with the New York youngsters and pupils in Falkirk schools.”
With The Kelpies expected to attract an additional 350,000 visitors and add £1.5 million to the annual tourism spend, Pete is convinced the transatlantic visit appears to have been opportune for the district.