Clan MacLennan USA
Having Too much Fun!
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Having Too Much Fun!!!

Eileen MacLennan Johnson

 

I would like to introduce myself.  My name is Eileen MacLennan Johnson.  My husband, Steven.  and I live in Placerville, CA, - which is a approximately half way between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe.  We have two boys, Brian age 9 and James who turned 8 in October.   I have been interested in my family heritage for many years and am very proud of my Scottish roots.   So much so that several years ago, my husband wrote to Scotland to obtain MacLennan family history information for me as a birthday present.  The information I received back was from a James MacLennan who is a Clan MacLennan historian.  This rekindled my search to not only to find out more about my personal family tree, but to look more closely at the history of Clan MacLennan.  That is the reason, in part, why I started attending Scottish Games.  And now, for the “rest of the story . . .”

Eileen, Steve, Brian, James

Eileen and Steve with our boys Brian and James.

I know from past experience that you hope to see your Clan represented when you attend a Scottish Games and Gathering and the disappointed when there is no booth. I always understood that there are  not enough conveners to go around; so with advise, support and guidance from our Secretary Colleen McKeon and our President David Jones,  I decided to take the leap to become a convener myself.  I hosted booths at six different Scottish Games in California this season (and I registered for a seventh, but due to the summer fires, I was unable to make the event in Oakland).  It was an absolute blast.  I have to admit that I am having more fun than should be allowed. 

While I am not new to hosting booths at events for business or charity - hosting a Clan MacLennan booth is quite different.  The atmosphere in the Clan area at the events is laid back, fun, and exciting.  While I was nervous at my first event at the Sacramento Valley Games - I certainly didn’t want to make mistakes (at least not any major ones) -   I had so much fun!  The conveners for the other Clan booths were all very welcoming, supportive and very helpful.   They made me feel very much at ease and answered any questions I had.  They made recommendations on how many events to limit myself to and which events were better to havetwo tent spaces at verses one.  I am fortunate that within a one to eight hour drive I have at least 15 events to choose from.  Many conveners here in California host tents at five or more events a year. 

The Sacramento (Sac) Valley Games are held in Woodland, CA as a two day event on the last weekend of April. It was quite an eye opener with approximately 4,000 people on Saturday alone.  During the Games, I was very fortunate to have several people stopping by throughout the day.  Since this was my first event it was very nice to have so many people stopping by to say hello and show their appreciation for someone from Clan MacLennan being there.  It was a wonderful start to my season of games, I learned very quickly that I will need to reserve more space for next year.

First booth

My first booth set up at Woodland,
not too bad for a first attempt

Tom and Joan MacLennan
 Eileen's Parents
Tom and Joan MacLennan

Herrs

Eileen with Mary Beth Herr and Family

Logsdens

Seth and Jenny Logsden

I decided to travel to Souther California next.  I could not have asked for better “Divine Intervention”.  You see I have a not so well kept secret . . . I love to go to Disneyland.  Well, the first Games in Southern California where I had the opportunity to host a booth , happened to be in Orange County at the Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa on Memorial Day weekend.  The venue was less than 15 minutes away from Disneyland and being Brian’s birthday as well, it was perfect.  I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  I was very glad I went.  We met some wonderful families and our booth was placed nest to another new comer to the Costa Mesa Games, the Clan Logan Society.  We were fortunate that Michael MacLennan, his wife Deborah and their daughter Isabella (Izzy) joined us for the Parade of Clans.  Which on this day had an extra tribute, which was very nicely done,  to honor those who served in our Country’s military.  Interestingly, Clan McLeod was positioned behind us for the parade that weekend and had a celebrity in their ranks ... Capt. Jack Sparrow.  We also had our booth near the sinking Titanic and other inflatable slides.  Making great fun for the kids, but making conversations with adults a  challenge at times.  

Clan Parade

Clan Parade at Costa Mesa with Michael, Deborah and Isabella (Izzy) MacLennan

Honoring Vets

Honoring Our Veterans on Memorial Day

Logan

Mark & Sharon Logan

The beginning of June brought the Games to Campbell in the South Bay Area of the State.  My dad, Tom, attended the event with me that weekend.  Unfortunately, attendance was down due to fires and road closures.  This situation created unusual announcements over the P.A. system by the end of the day calling for Scots to drink more (beer in this case).  My dad really enjoyed talking for a good portion of the day with a gentleman by the name of Joe McClendon.  Dad and I were fortunate enough to have Joe with us for the parade.  He was pleased that we asked him to join us and to carry our Clan MacLennan Parade Banner (its debut, as well as the debut of a full size tent banner).  I will have fond memories of the games at Campbell because it was the first time I had tried the Haggis toss.  In short you return a bow with a curtsy, receive the haggis, shout something, try not to step on the river and land the haggis in the “wooden husband’s” kilt.  I know that to compete next year I will have to practice in the “off season” and come up with a better cry then “Incoming!”

McClendon

Eileen, her Dad Tom, and Joe McClendon

Booth

Booth set up on hot and windy day

The beginning of June brought the Games to Campbell in the South Bay Area of the State.  My dad, Tom, attended the event with me that weekend.  Unfortunately, attendance was down due to fires and road closures.  This situation created unusual announcements over the P.A. system by the end of the day calling for Scots to drink more (beer in this case).  My dad really enjoyed talking for a good portion of the day with a gentleman by the name of Joe McClendon.  Dad and I were fortunate enough to have Joe with us for the parade.  He was pleased that we asked him to join us and to carry our Clan MacLennan Parade Banner (its debut, as well as the debut of a full size tent banner).  I will have fond memories of the games at Campbell because it was the first time I had tried the Haggis toss.  In short you return a bow with a curtsy, receive the haggis, shout something, try not to step on the river and land the haggis in the “wooden husband’s” kilt.  I know that to compete next year I will have to practice in the “off season” and come up with a better cry then “Incoming!”

Booth - Pleasonton

Booth set up at the largest event of the year: Pleasanton, CA

Program

Program for the Games

In September we made a whirlwind trip to the Central Valley and to a small games venue in Fresno.  This event seemed to be the most tiring for us.  We drove down to the games, hosted our booth, and drove back all in the same day (I couldn’t get out of my job on Sunday).  It made for approximately a 20 hour day with only a few hours of sleep.  However, it was also the first games that my eldest son Brian, competed in the children’s athletics; so this event was very memorable.  Brian entered the Caber Toss and unfortunately did better in practice than in competition.  He did much better in the Stone Throw placing 4th by throwing a 5lb stone 19.5 foot and missing 3rd place by just 1".  My other son James also enjoyed the practice sessions but, just wasn’t quite comfortable enough to compete (although he says he might next time).  Maybe I have two future heavy athletics stars on my hands.

Brian

Brian after a disappointing Caber Toss

Brian 2

Brian with his 19.5' Stone Throw

Burnham

The Burnham Family

Cross

Celtic Cross at the Clan Area Entrance

After Fresno, we again headed to Southern California to the Ventura County Coastline.  The Seaside Games are held at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, and yes, they are just a frontage road away from the beach and the Pacific Ocean.  What a way to end our 2008 festival season!!  We ran into conveners we hadn’t seen since Costa Mesa and Michael, Deborah, and Izzy came and stopped by to say hello again and joined us for the parade.  Michael and I were both upset when the announcer for the parade mispronounced the MacLennan name and took three tries to get it correct.  Now that we are attending the Games, maybe they will know who we are next year.  In addition to renewing acquaintances, we were fortunate enough to be placed near the stage where the Wicked Tinkers and others were playing all weekend.  We were treated to fabulous music all weekend.

Seaside Games
The Seaside Games were also a favorite of mine because the boys had a weekend with their grandparents.  This allowed us to go into old town Ventura and go into the Irish pub and see others there from the Games.  The hostess was telling us that people kept asking her what was with all the Kilts and she would simply ask if they knew that the Scottish Games were over at the Fairgrounds.  I think she may have secretly wanted to tell them that Kilts were the weekend dress code.  It was nice camping that night to the sound of the ocean waves.  The only drawback to the weekend was the wind.  Many booths had to abandon their canopies or got so fed up, they packed up and left the Games early on Saturday and didn’t return.  Those who did leave, missed a wonderful weekend, because Sunday was a better day.   Seaside is also fortunate enough to have an Amtrak station near the entrance to the Fairgrounds which helps to draw more people to the Games. Besides how can you not have fun at a Games venue which has a surfer in tartan swimsuit trunks and a tartan covered surf board on their logo?

M & I MacLennan

Michael and Izzy before Parade of Clans

wind blown booth

Steve standing by the wiond blown booth.
Ours survived the onslaught.

As with many things that you do for the first time and have a great experience with, the 2008 Games season will always be special to me.  I believe we recruited, either directly or indirectly, 7 or more new members.  All of whom will be valuable assets to our group. With each new venue we saw familiar faces and met new ones.  I look forward to seeing “old” friends at the 2009 events and I can’t wait to continue meeting Clan MacLennan family members throughout the West.  I cannot wait until the season starts and I get to have a whole lot of fun again. 

 

If you would like to help at one of the Games or would like to request I attend a Games or Gathering near you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Remember the Clan booth is your home away from home while at a Gathering.  Stop by, have a seat, get out of the heat or just come by for a chat.  You will be “welcomed home”.    I will make sure that Colleen has the dates for events I am planning to attend to add to the newsletter, but for now here is my tentative schedule for 2009.  I look forward to seeing you at the Clan MacLennan booth soon!

March 13-15 2009    Sonora Celtic Faire                                     Sonora CA              www.sonoracelticfaire.com

April 25-26 2009      Sacramento Valley Games & Gathering     Woodland CA         www.saccallie.org

May 30-31 2009       Highland Gathering & Games                    Costa Mesa CA      www.unitedscottishsociety.com

June 20 2009             Campbell Highland Games                        Campbell CA         www.campbellgames.com

September 5-6 2009 Caledonian Club of S.F. Highland Games  Pleasanton CA        www.caledonian.org

September 19 2009   Fresno Highland Games                           Fresno CA               www.scottishsociety.org

October 10-11 2009   Seaside Scottish Highland Games            Ventura CA            www.seaside-games.com

Other potential locations for 2009 (check back with the Clan Caendar pages for final dates):

April 4 2009            Kern County Scottish Gathering & Games   Bakersfield CA   www.kernscot.com

May 16-17 2009      Livermore Scottish Games                        Livermore CA         www.livermoregames.com

June 6 2009            Modesto Games & Gathering                     Modesto CA         www.standrewmodesto.org

July 25-26 2009      Seattle Scottish Highland Games               Enumclaw Expo Ctr WA      www.sshga.org

August 1-2 2009       Monterey Highland Games                     Monterey CA         www.montereyscotgames.com

October 3 2009         Reno NV Celtic Celebration OR
                                  Ben Lomond CA

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the Games.

Eileen MacLennan Johnson

This page maintained by David A Jones