Land of the giants: Huge puppets stalk streets of Liverpool as three-day spectacular marks 100 years since the Titanic sank
By Lyle Brennan
Gigantic puppets lumbered through the streets of Liverpool this morning as the city paid tribute to the victims of the Titanic disaster.
The £2million Sea Odyssey spectacular began as a 30ft mechanical girl came to life in Stanley Park, marking 100 years since the loss of more than 1,500 lives.
Over the course of three days, the supersized puppet show tells the story of an 11-year-old girl named May McMurray, who wrote to her father when he was aboard the RMS Titanic - three days before the liner hit an iceberg and sank.
Larger than life: The Little Girl Giant Marionette makes its way through the streets of Liverpool as the Titanic Sea Odyssey giant puppet spectacular gets underway
The letter would never reach William McMurray, whose body was never found after he perished in the icy Atlantic on April 15, 1912.
But the tragic tale will come to what organisers say is a 'heartwarming finale' on Sunday, when the grieving Little Girl Giant character is reunited with her 'uncle' at the end of a 23-mile route.
French creators Royal De Luxe took inspiration from the real-life letter May sent to her father, which is on display in the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
Artistic director Jean Luc Courcoult has adapted the story to focus on the relationship between the girl and a fictional uncle who has been searching the sea bed for 100 years to lay his brother to rest.
During the search he discovers the letter written by the Little Giant Girl, vowing to return it to the author and tell her what happened to her father.
He began his journey from Albert Dock on the city's waterfront at 2pm this afternoon and will make his way towards his giant 'niece'.
Dwarfed: Emmy-Lou Hussin, aged 5, comes face to face with the Little Girl Giant in Stanley Park, Liverpool
Monster from the deep: The deep sea diver character is raised out of the water at Liverpool's Albert Docks, where he set off on his way to meet his puppet 'niece' in time for the finale on Sunday
Bigfoot: Puppeteers tend to the 30ft mechanical girl at the start of Sea Odyssey, a three-day street theatre inspired by the Titanic
On his way: The diver puppet emerges at the city waterfront and begins his journey to find the Little Girl Giant, based on a real-life girl who lost her father on the Titanic
Among the thousands of spectators was a descendent of one of the Titanic victims, who complained after the Little Girl Giant appeared to squat down and urinate in the street.
Clive Ismay called the puppeteers' stunt 'disgusting' but organisers at Liverpool City Council dismissed his claim that it was disrespectful.
Sea Odyssey was originally supposed to be the street spectacular that launched Liverpool's 2008 Capital of Culture events.
At that time it was deemed 'unsuitable' and the city council instead opted for a giant spider show entitled La Princess.
Featuring a similar design to the Royal De Luxe puppets, the 50ft creature stalked Liverpool city centre, attracting more than 250,000 spectators.
But with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking council officials decided to revive the project with a maritime theme and the complex planning began 12 months ago.
The £2million cost is being met by the National Lottery, the Arts Council, the ERDF and 'the last of the cash' from Liverpool's Capital of Culture funds.
Standing tall: The Little Girl Giant has a shower in Stanley Park (left) before marching through the Anfield area (right) as operators tug a complex system of pulleys
Crowdpleaser: The Giant Uncle, a huge marionette created by experts Royal De Luxe, makes his way down Castle Street to meet the Lord Mayor on his pursuit to find his niece
Girl's best friend: The huge wooden puppet sleeps with her 20ft dog Xolo at the rehearsals yesterday
Feat: The girl sits among a mass of machinery that helped her make the journey across Liverpool under teh direction of creators Royal De Luxe
Rise of the machine: The puppet is hoisted to her feet by a crane as puppeteers pull on ropes to make her appear to have a shower
Sleeping giant: The enormous wooden girl represents May, an 11-year-old who wrote to her father as he sailed on the doomed Titanic
On the high seas: A lorry helps the marionette set sail through the streets of Liverpool, standing almost as tall as the terraced houses she passes
Giddy up: A little girl rides the marionette's mechanical pet dog, which at 20ft long is bigger than a horse