About 135 gathered to celebrate Scottish literature icon Robbie Burns in Red Deer last weekend.
The Red Deer and District Pipe Band hosted a Robbie Burns Night celebration at Elks Lodge on Saturday. The event featured traditional Scottish music, dancing and haggis, in honour of 18th-century poet and author Robert Burns.
Burns composed Auld Lang Syne, Tam O’Shanter and many other Scottish poems. He is celebrated on or near his Jan. 25 birthday. The occasion has been observed by people of Scottish heritage annually since 1801.
“We have a celebration for him and try to make some money for the pipe band,” said Arnie MacAskill, Red Deer and District Pipe Band vice-president.
“We had the piping in of the haggis. When it’s piped in, they do a shot of scotch to toast Robbie Burns. There’s a whole slew of speeches: a salute to the laddies, a salute to the lassies … and that kind of stuff. It’s quite a celebration. There’s also highland dancers, Celtic music.”
MacAskill, who wasn’t about to attend the event himself, estimated the night helped raise about $1,100 for the band. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first Robbie Burns celebration the pipe band has hosted in a couple of years.
“We have about 20 members in the pipe band. The facility, the Elks Lodge, only holds about 135 people – we sold out pretty fast. I had a couple of phone calls from about 50 who would have come it we had a bigger facility,” he said.
The Red Deer Legion hosted a Robbie Burns celebration as well earlier this month.
MacAskill said it’s great to have events like this celebrating Scottish heritage.
“Everyone loves the bagpipes,” said MacAskill.
“I’m from Nova Scotia and my ancestors are from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. I know there are people from all kinds of nationalities that play the bagpipes, even in our band.”
Members of the Red Deer and District Pipe Band will raise money by playing at half a dozen pubs on St. Patrick’s Day.
For more information on the pipe band, which was established in 1948, visit www.reddeerdistrictpipeband.ca.
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