Parading is all part of being in the band

Kylie MacHattie
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Celtic Connection column

I’ve participated in a lot of parades over my piping career. The long and winding Toronto Santa Claus Parade, the cold and frigid St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Toronto and the equally cold Remembrance Day Parade also in Toronto. I’ve had wind and rain pelt my face as we marched along the shores of Lake Ontario leaving a rash on one side of my face.

There have been memorable moments on parade dodging horse droppings, have people yell at you to play the whole way, people marching alongside pretending to be a drum major, a band member once spilled liquid detergent on his tunic and it foamed with frothy bubbles for the entire length of the parade (that’s when we were pelted with rain). It made for some comedic moments along the parade route.

This past weekend was spent at the 151st Antigonish Highland Games, and in lieu of opening massed bands, each pipe band has to participate in a parade through the main streets of Antigonish.

This is a parade and Highland Games that the town takes great pride in. Storefronts are decked out in plaid and people wear their family tartans either in the form of kilts or accoutrements.

The route is lined thick with enthusiastic parade watchers. I have to admit that a parade is not an ideal way to start a day filled with competition but this one is pretty fun to participate in.

Another fun parade was the Lobster Festival Parade this past Monday. After a long weekend of competing in the blazing sun and searing heat for two days, we joked that we might not make it to the end of the route out of fatigue, but there was such a fantastic turnout from the community, it was a lot of fun to be a part of. The crowds were thick with people despite the Maritime weather and the cheers were loud and supportive.

The only daunting part of the parade was making sure that a Marilyn Munro moment wasn’t to be had with my kilt!

It’s nice to see a community come together and support such a great event like the Lobster Festival Parade.

For me parades are also a time for our wee drummers and pipers in the band to strut their stuff. It’s not just about competition on the weekends but participating in these events gives them opportunity to play for appreciative and supportive crowds. It’s their moment to shine in a different way and one without the pressure of a contest.

I hope that as they play in more parades and community events that they build up the memories like I have over the years. Perhaps minus the bubbling tunic.     

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