A Day at the Games
A Day at the Games
submitted by David Jones
Photos by Pam Llorens
PrologueIt really started two years ago at the Dunedin FL Games in April 2005. I was going to be going over to Scotland in the summer of 2005 and wanted to see how the Orlando band was doing, and if they were still going, since there was a possibility that I would play with them. So, on a beautiful spring Friday, I put my kilt and gear into the sports car and headed south some 320 miles along the Gulf of Mexico Coast of Florida, arriving at Dunedin in the late afternoon. Turns out I should have used the sun screen a bit more frequently during the trip, but the burn wasn't too bad!
An area with strong Scottish roots and culture, Dunedin is a small, quiet city in the Tampa Bay area. But it has its own Dunedin Brewery and lots of entertainment, so dinner at Flanagan's Irish pub, with some of the local product and some great Irish and Scottish music and I was ready for the Games the next day.
I quickly found that the MacLennan Clan was in residence - represented. Don Waugh Jr. and his father Donald Sr. They had the tent nicely set up and were having a real social time entertaining visitors as they wandered by. "The Donalds" were up from Miami - some 300 miles to the south and over on the Atlantic coast, of course. I had never met Don, the south Florida convener, at Stone Mountain [Atlanta GA] but recognized his name from the clan information on this web site.
As we were standing at the tent and visiting, I happened to glance along the way and noticed a big tent nearby.
Shock! It was full of folks from a band - and they were wearing the MacLennan/Logan modern tartan! Check out the St. Andrew's Pipes & Drums of Tampa Bay.
So I went over to meet them and chatted for a while with their Drum Major. Turns out he's a "snowbird" form Canada who winters in theTampa Bay area and acts as their "winter" Drum Major. He said, "Of course we'd love to have you play massed bands with us any time you're down here." On this trip, I hadn't taken my drum. Unlike pipers, who take their pipes with them everywhere in case they get a chance to play - they probably sleep with them, too! - drummers aren't so keen to haul the bulky things around.
Anyway, I returned to the clan tent and "the Donalds" and I planned to march together in the parade of clans at the Opening Ceremony. Unfortunately, we weren't assigned to the block that included the Tampa Bay bandband, so folks didn't see the connection of this large band wearing MacLennan colors.
I had a great day and decided that I would try to get back to Dunedin - with my drum - for another Games.
In 2006, my wife Ann and I were traveling at the time of the Dunedin Games, so we couldn't get there.
2007But this year, we planned to catch the Dunedin Games, which had been moved a couple of weeks ahead to the end of March. Turns out Ann was battling a rather nasty throat infection, so she wasn't able to go, but she said to me, "You go - have a great time, and I'll stay home and try to beat this infection."
So, on another gorgeous Friday, I set out for the trip south. Looked rather funny, I suppose, in the two-seat sports car, since I had the big drum case in the passenger seat beside me. Used lots of sun screen this time and avoided a burn!
A wee dram from the Dunedin Brewery, a great meal and some Irish and Scottish music - just like last time - and I was ready for a nice early start on Saturday.
My hotel was about 8 miles from the Games, since I had hesitated until the last minute due to Ann's health and couldn't get into one of the Games hotels. But they served a Continental breakfast... as I was having a light breakfast, a couple of youngsters came over and sat near me and started asking questions. Turns out 7 year-old Damon and 9 year-old Sami [Samantha] Gormley had brought their parents down from New Jersey for Spring Break, and they were dividing their time between Orlando [awesome!] and Tampa Bay [really neat!]. This was their last day, and they weren't sure what they were going to do. So, I told them about the Games. Damon thought it would be super to see guys throwing telephone poles and Sami seemed more interested in the dancing, but they both thought it would be neat to see a whole band playing "those screechy things". I told them that if they talked their parents into going, they could probably talk to a piper, but suggested that they should come up with a better name than ":screechy things", since pipers are really rather sensitive people. Their parents were interested to know that they could take their own food or buy at the Games - said that at so many of the events they attend up in "Joisey" they have to buy what the vendors sell - at their prices. They thought the Games might be a fun day, but as I left they hadn't decided.
Arriving at the Games, I checked in with the Tampa Band for instructions about when and where we would gather and to let them know where I would be in case things changed.
I immediately found Ross MacKie and we had a visit to catch up on things. You see, Ross is another Canadian snowbird who winters in the Tampa Bay area and plays with the Tampa Bay band. His friends Hugh and Carol Jack from Canada [they were both born in Scotland but live in Canada now] spend a couple of months in my area and Hugh plays with my band [Panama City Pipes & Drums] while he is "south". When my band decided to go over to Orlando in January for their Games, Ross and his wife drove over to see Hugh and Carol. Ross played with our band when we competed, and it was then that I started to put in motion this trip down to Dunedin. [Hugh and Carol, in the meantime, have gone back to Canada and should be going through their second thawing this year anytime now.]
Then I went on to the Clan MacLennan tent where Don Jr. and Pam Llorens had things all set up. Was saddened to hear that Donald Sr. was not there - he's in Birmingham AL, struggling with his health.** Don and Pam offered me the use of the clan tent for my stuff, and that was not only handy but very much appreciated.
Don and I soon hatched a plan to have the Clan reps march right behind the Tampa Bay band and Don went off to clear that with the organizer and to get the announcer to mention that the band was wearing the MacLennan tartan. Pretty neat. Not many clans - even much bigger ones - get to have their own band!
Don Waugh Jr. and David Jones hatching some plan...
Before long, Alex MacLennan and her daughter Skye arrived at the tent and, of course, were welcomed. Skye is an adorable and charming wee 15 month-old who is at that curious stage of exploring everything! Including my drum, with an old stick that I found for her. At this point, I think I'd bet on her developing a dancing career more likely than drumming!
Skye, Alex, Don, David
Alex was most interesting. She grew up in Dunedin, almost across the street from Highlander Park [I mentioned that this community has deep Scottish roots!]. One of the things that has always impressed me about Dunedin is the way the Scottish heritage is interwoven in the community. Both the Middle School and HIgh School have very active pipe band programs, with their students receiving excellent training and experience. [I know - we often compete against them at Florida Games and they always do well.] The City of Dunedin band draws on the large pool of experienced players developed int he school program and is a very accomplished and competitive band.
Alex herself is not one to "toot her own horn", but... yes, she was a piper in Middle School and High School bands. And, yes, she was the Pipe Major in her Senior Year. Yes, she also played in her college band. But, no, she isn't piping regularly these days. Nice to know a MacLennan was keeping up the clan piping tradition!
Soon it was approaching noon, and I had to get suited up and leave for the massed bands and parade. Of course, being Scottish [as with the Irish] the time of noon was rather "ish" as in "noon-ish". We stood around a waited for some time, but that is absolutely the norm for games and massed band parades. Anyway, it's a great time to visit with friends from other bands.
The others decided that Pat would stay and mind the tent while Don, Alex and Skye marched in the clan parade.
David, Skye, Alex, Don, Dave Henderson, bass drummer, St. Andrew's P&D
Waitng for the noon-ish parade
And the parade's on...
St. Andrew's Pipes & Drums of Tampa Bay
David Jones, Bunny Pearce, Don, Skye, Alex
Don, Skye, Alex
It's over 80, and Skye has been waiting to cut loose for over half an hour! Right in step, too!
For those of you with a high-speed connection, here's a short movie clip, but it is 6 meg
When I got back from the parade, Don and Pat said that two ladies had been by and would return later - one was from Canada but now lived in this area, and had MacLennan relatives on Lewis.
Donna Barbar and Pat Kavanaugh did indeed drop by a short time later. Donna's MacLennan ancestors were from the tiny village of Reef in Uig Parish, Isle of Lewis. My grandfather MacLennan emigrated from Valtos [Bhaltos], which is an equally tiny village in Uig Parish on Lewis. It is fascinating to me how these villages existed - they are so small and only a few miles apart. In fact, in this one far north-west corner of Lewis [itself being the far north-west of Scotland] there are also the villages of Aird Uig, Kneep, Miavig and Cliff, all on a tiny winding road that only takes 10 minutes to drive. And, there are several other villages within a few miles where there are also many MacLennans and relatives - Crowlista, Islivig, Carnish
Donna and I have exchanged the genealogy information we have, but need to do further digging to see if there is a connection either in the MacLennan or Matheson families.
After a short tenor flourishing demonstration, Donna and Pat were on their way. But a few minutes later, Alex's father Joe MacLennan and his friend dropped by for a visit and picture.
Alex, Skye, David, Don, Joe MacLennan and friend
Then I went over to catch the band competition for a while. Guess who I saw there?! Damon and Sami, from the hotel that morning! They and their parents had decided that the Games sounded like a fun day, and they were really having a great time. I offered to take the kids over to the band tent, and Ross was kind enough to blow up his pipes and let both of them try a tune. Sami is a fast learner and made no reference to "screechy things."
Just before I left for Dunedin, I had e-mailed a friend with whom I worked several years ago, and who lives across the Bay near Tampa. I hadn't heard back from him, but wasn't at all surprised that Mike Salo showed up just before the closing ceremony. Mike watched that and came back to the tent, which Don and Pat had been packing up. After goodbye's to Don and Pat, who had a long drive ahead of them the next day, and all that week as they visited relatives in NC and Donald Sr. in Birmingham AL, Mike and I started to visit and catch up on news. His family couldn't attend due to his daughter's ball game, but Mike so enjoyed the Games that he says he will be sure to make it a family outing next year. I was famished, since I don't eat much during the day at Games [probably too busy talking! But by the time we finish massed bands at noon-ish, the line-ups for food are usually long and slow.] Anyway, Mike and I stopped off for dinner and refreshment then he headed back over the Bay and I headed back to my hotel, exhausted.
EpilogueWell, that's still to unfold! But, here's a few thoughts...
Not too hard to see wee Skye continuing her dancing by learning Highland. And how many Highland dancers have an accomplished piper to accompany them who is their mother?! Also, not too hard to see Skye getting involved in the Dunedin Middle and High School pipe band activities - following in her mother's steps. Might that bring Alex back as an active piper?
After some research, it might turn out that Donna Barbar and I are distant cousins, descended from the first MacLennans to settle as tacksmen in Reef, Uig Parish, Isle of Lewis from Loch Broomside in Wester Ross. We'll have to do some digging and research on that.
OK, now here's a real stretch, that's not so far off the wall after all...
Dunedin is in the Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater area on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. The area is well served by regular and charter carriers from all over the US and Canada. AND it is only a short [less than 100 miles] drive between Tampa Bay and all the other attractions at Orlando. A great opportunity for a family Spring Break trip - Orlando's Disney World, Tampa Bay attractions and the Dunedin Games. Knowing a contingent was coming to the Games from the west, I'm sure many easterners could be persuaded to head there for the same attractions and reasons. A good chance to hold a meeting at other than Stone Mountain.
Driving home the next day, I was reflecting on just how many interesting people I had come in contact with in such a short time - both with a MacLennan clan connection, and just as new or renewed friends.
** And a final note - information I received after this was first posted... Donald Waugh Sr. is somewhat recovered and has returned home from hospital.
David Jones lives near Panama City, Florida and is the web master for the USA section of this web site. He is a tenor drummer with the Panama City Pipes & Drums and an aspiring piper [who struggles much and doesn't practice often enough!].
Are you a piper, drummer, dancer, athlete, genealogist, clansperson who attends Games? Share your stories! This web site is a forum for all clan members to get to know about each other.
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