Strandbeests at Crane BeachPlaces

Strandbeest Invasion

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests came to Crane Beach in August, 2015, but the bigger news was the largest invasion of people the town of Ipswich has experienced in recent memory. Even though it was cool and cloudy, Deb and I anticipated a traffic backup on Argilla Road, so we took our bicycles.

Strandbeests traffic Ipswich MA
Cars were backed up on Argilla Road by 9 am, and within an hour traffic was snarled all the way into Ipswich and Essex. Photo from the I Love Ipswich Facebook group by Kristin Smith.
The parking lot at Crane Beach filled up quickly.
The parking lot at Crane Beach filled up quickly.
We were able to make good time on the bicycles, and the gatekeepers at Crane Beach waved us in, no charge. .Beach staff had moved the bicycle racks against the shed, gaining two more automobile parking spots but making it impossible to park many bicycles.
We made good time on the bicycles, and the gatekeepers at Crane Beach waved us in, no charge. Beach staff had foolishly moved the bicycle racks against the shed to make room for two more cars, which unfortunately eliminated parking for dozens of bicycles.
There were so many people that the Strandbeests could barely move.
The beach was packed with people anticipating the big event, but the organizers were unable to get people to back away from the Strandbeests, which prevented them from moving very far.

Finally, the Strandbeests were able to move a short distance up and down the beach. The photo above is as close as we got, and for the most part, we couldn’t see anything. The video below was posted by Emily Rose Parent on the I Love Ipswich Facebook group.

What we saw:

We decided to
We decided to “beat the crowd” and headed back on our bikes into Ipswich. Argilla Road was at a standstill. The Crane Beach lot was closed, and people were walking in from as far away as Russell Orchards. We took a stealth detour by Fox Creek to Labor in Vain Rd. Photo of Argilla Road by David “Stoney” Stone

Back in town, we realized that all those people who couldn’t get to Crane Beach were now in downtown Ipswich looking for something to do. Hundreds had taken the train, but the buses to the beach were stuck in traffic. Ipswich at noon looked perilously like a tourist town. We stopped at Zumi’s, and were able to quickly order a couple of espressos before riding home. By 2 pm, Ipswich appeared to be back to “normal.”

Story of the Strandbeests:

What we anticipated:

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6 replies »

  1. Made me sick to my stomach as a life long resident and daily beach goer who also cleans the beach. This had better not be repeated again. Shame on TTOR for thinking with their bank books.

  2. Yes the wait was long in traffic but when was I ever going to see something so amazing on a beach near me ever again. It was a lovely soft overcast day to enjoy the attraction and the festive atmosphere. Tip saw lots of smiles.

  3. It was amazing and fun concept, but so poorly organized – my heart went out to all of the walkers, long-distance travelers, and disappointed attendees. Literally tens of thousands of people came to see the two (small) StrandBeests that were walking from the waterline half way to the dunes and then being dragged back again. Understandably, the wind direction impacted where the “Beests” could walk, but a more valuable and interesting approach would have been a stroll along the waterline so more people would have had a clear view. A single lane road, incredible publicity, and no planning for the crowds. My daughter spent 2.5 hours in her car after the event, in the parking lot from 11:30 to 2:00 w/o moving at all, since there was no place to go! We were fortunate to have parked near the Castle, so getting out wasn’t so bad, though still slow. Parking along Route 133 all the way to Choate Street on two sides going to Essex.

  4. Gordon, we drove up from Boston with a couple friends. We were able to find parking at the beach but weren’t able to see much. The beests were a lot smaller than the one in the marketing photo. Maybe if the organizers had roped an area off visibility might have better. After about 20 minutes we walked down the trail to the Crane estate and explored the buildings and grounds, which of course are spectacular.

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