SUMMERSIDE — Mick Hanlon expects that a few stories — and a few brews — will be shared with his old buddies, some of whom he hasn’t seen for decades.
Stories of time spent stationed throughout the world, keeping the peace as members of the oldest highland regiment in the country.
Hanlon is organizing the upcoming Black Watch Reunion and Annual General Meeting, set to take place in Summerside at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Centre Sept. 5 and 6.
He served 39 years in the military, eight of those years with the Black Watch before it was disbanded in 1970.
“We have been having this reunion since the breakup in 1970. Every two years we get together. In the early days we would get 800, 900 and 1,200 people.”
Unfortunately, as they get up in age, many members of the Black Watch no in their late 70s and early 80s, attendance at these reunions is declining.
“In 2012 until now we lost 21 people, which is 23 months ago,” said Hanlon. “A lot of times you are sitting having a beer with a person or my wife is talking to someone, and you never see that person again. It’s very sad.”
Although many use Internet and social media to keep in touch, it’s at these reunions where old friendships are rekindled and reminiscing about the past takes place.
“Some of our people come from as far as Saskatchewan and Alberta,” added Hanlon.
It’s only the second time that the reunion and AGM is being held in the city. The last time was in 2012 with close to 150 people attending.
Hanlon expects about 100 Black Watch members to attend the upcoming event. Already, 136 people, including spouses or companions, have registered.
“They will start coming in on Thursday, Sept. 4. We will do registration Friday afternoon and then from 7 to 10 Friday night at the Causeway Bay we’ll do a meet and greet and make some presentations,” said Hanlon.
It’s there talk will turn to sports they played while part of the Black Watch and a toast or two made to fallen friends and comrades.
“We were very famous for sports, too,” said Hanlon, showing off some photos from past reunions. “We had a lot of great hockey players. I like to put myself in that category. We had a lot of boxers and ball players. Needless to say there were a lot of them from P.E.I.”
And, of course, there will be a tale or two shared and some laughs.
“It’s at the meet and greet where we’re telling likes, saying how good we were,” Hanlon said with a laugh. “It’s not serious. It’s just fun, an awful lot of fun just seeing people you haven’t seen in years.”
On Saturday, Sept. 6, Black Watch members will dress in uniform, some in the regiment’s trademark kilt, to parade from the hotel to the RCAFA 200 Wing at 1 p.m.
The afternoon will be spent catching up before a sit-down dinner at 6 p.m.
“It will be a pretty good time, for a bunch of old-timers.”
To register, contact Hanlon via email at email@example.com.