When the march he’d helped organize exceeded its $1,500-fundraising goal, Keith de Silvia-Legault put on the head-to-toe Ronald McDonald cosplay outfit that he’d promised to wear, and set out to mark the closing of the Rideau Street restaurant.
“This is a way to show the country, a way to show our own community, our province as well, that we’re capable of kindness, coming together and giving back,” said de Silvia-Legault, a fifth-year University of Ottawa political science student.
The fundraiser and food drive, which were held on March 19, were organized by six uOttawa students, one of which was de Silvia-Legault.
The McDonald’s at 99 Rideau St., well known among bar-visiting post-secondary students in Ottawa for its consistent debacles and its high police call volume, was honoured with a farewell march beginning at Confederation Park at 12:30.
The march began at Confederation Park before crossing Laurier Avenue Bridge, it then continued down Nicholas Street and swung around to the restaurant.
The restaurant gained legendary notoriety when raccoon made a cameo in a brawl. The incident lead to the organizers coining the raccoon as the image and brand of the farewell march.
One Algonquin College police foundations student witnessed that very raccoon incident.
“I remember those times,” said David Hyacinthe, a police foundations student. “I used to go there with my friends. We’d get a drink and a McChicken and just, watch. All the drunk people in one place is never a good idea.”
The march’s online fundraiser exceeded the goal of $1,500 by $200 prior to the event. The fundraiser continues until March 23. Five and a half boxes of non-perishables items were donated to Shepherds of Good Hope after the march.
“It’s a gathering place for many and I think that’s why lots of people are surprised and a little bit sad to see it go although of course we understand why the decision was made,” said Maisy Elspeth, a uOttawa bio-med and philosophy student and volunteer at the march.
Supporters in cars honked frequently for the marchers along the route. The event brought together many nostalgic Ottawans to say their farewells.
A few participants wore commemorative costumes including an Officer Big Mac fairy, a full raccoon outfit, the Hamburgler and a french fry box featuring yellow painted pool noodles.
There was a mixed reaction when the store’s closure was announced in January. Even after adding private security and cutting overnight hours, the restaurant remained a hot-spot for problems and police visits.
“It’s caused a lot of problems over the years. Overall it’s closing, it’s a beneficial thing for the community,” said Ian Reid, a uOttawa political science student who donned a full raccoon suit. “This march isn’t a protest. It’s us gathering, remembering all the fond memories and saying goodbye to this place.”