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The night The Kelpies became Our Kelpies

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It was billed as the international unveiling of The Kelpies and there’s no doubt the images will be beamed worldwide over the next few days, weeks and months.

But for the hundreds of locals who made their way to the event, it was a night when ‘the’ Kelpies became ‘our’ Kelpies as they finally got the chance to marvel at the giant sculptures close up.

There have been those who have questioned spending such vast amounts of money on the project, but there were no such grumbles from those I encountered yesterday evening. They were too busy gazing in wonder at artist Andy Scott’s amazing creations, enhanced on this occasion by a spectacular lights and pyrotechnics show.

My wife and I were lucky enough to be invited along as guests of Scottish Canals and our party included representatives from the company responsible for building the huge structures. There have been plenty of facts and figures banded about in the run-up to the unveiling - each Kelpie stands 30 metres high and weighs around 300 tonnes - and they were able to add many more. The foundations are as deep as the structures are tall, no two pieces of steel are the same and, if memory serves me correct (it was a long night), 24,000 bolts were used.

Hearing such details helped pass the time as we waited for our turn to see the show, repeated at 15-minute intervals, but, in truth, mere statistics can’t do The Kelpies justice; you’ve simply got to see them yourselves.

The Helix has quickly become a popular destination for walkers, joggers, cyclists and families looking to spend some time together in the open air, but the opening of the path to The Kelpies has taken it to a whole new level.

As we walked through the park, enjoying the numerous pieces of specially commissioned artwork along the way, there was a real sense of anticipation that we were about to witness something special, and the excited chatter of those making their way back down the path only added to the sense of theatre.

We were not to be disappointed.

From the moment we heard the loud neighing of horses - part of the musical accompaniment to the show - and caught our first glimpse of The Kelpies, we were captivated.

The intensity of the lights and canal-side flares was almost matched by flashes from cameras and mobile phones as the crowds captured their own images of what was truly a special event.

As the time eventually came for us to head home, we once again stumbled upon the team behind the creation of The Kelpies. There were due to head back south early the next morning but seemed reluctant to tear themselves away. They had watched every bolt go in, every piece of steel be erected and saw the sculptures taking shape every day of their working lives for more than four months, but still they stood, watching, admiring and, yes, even taking their own snaps to add to the hundreds they no doubt already have.

Their pride in a job well done was evident, and the people of Falkirk, Grangemouth and the rest of the district should be equally proud of what has been created on their doorstep.

In The Kelpies we have something to rival the top tourist attractions in Glasgow, Edinburgh and beyond ...

 

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