A Scottish Games at 50
For those of you out there who don't know, Clan MacDuff is an amalgamation of some fifteen former Scottish Clans from all over the Greater New York Region. The 115-year-old non-profit is today the one remaining continuously operating Scottish Clan in New York per se; while not as fancy as sister organizations the St. Andrew's Society of the State of New York and the New York Caledonian Club, the MacDuffs do have what it takes to make friends on Long Island. Little wonder, then, that this year's 50th Anniversary Long Island Scottish Games promises to be as magical as ever!
The Games were first held on the site of the former mansion of Mr. and Mrs. John S. Phipps in 1970; today, they're the Gardens' biggest annual event, attracting between 5000 and 6000 spectators each year (which is enough to make the MacDuffs' Games one of the largest single-day Scottish Games events on the East Coast)!
And what brings this particular Games together? Well, the magic that comes from the principal Pipe Band-in-Residence, Andy McDicken's Clan Gordon Highlanders of Locust Valley & Lattingtown (it also helps that Andy happens to be a native of Glasgow; he, his wife Mary, and all the McDickens have always made me feel welcome each year. As do the two other Resident Bagpipe Bands who call these Games home --- the Amityville American Legion Post 1015 Highlanders and the Northport Pipe & Drum Band. They're great honkers and bangers, and you should listen to them.
Commander Bob Small of the 42nd Royal Highlanders, Commander Conrad Bender, his #2 man there, and the rest of those wacky guys in period military costume, never fail to enchant listeners with their anecdotes and historical facts. And there's always a preponderence of greyhound and dog run spaces for the four-legged visitors to the Scottish Games (Woof woof!).
And if it's music you want, these Games have it in abundance. MacTalla Mor, Christina Harrison, Charlie Zahm, Robert Mouland, Carl Peterson --- these are some of the artists who've made musical magic and brought a lot of memories of bonnie Scotland, too! A recent addition to these merry musicians is Isabelle Smith and the Cameron Scottish Music Ensemble, which has fiddlers, guitar-strummers, bass players, a drummer and a keyboardist ---- which is exactly the same roster as in Gerry Lagace's Bristol, CT Old-Tyme Fiddlers' Club! (Boy, if we could get the Bristol Fiddlers and Isabelle's Cameron's together, the fans would be in for a helluva jam session!)
One major event that will take place before we all assemble at the Gardens is the world premiere of the unusual musical documentary film On the Day: The Story of the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band. The film's Emmy-winning producer-director, John McDonald, is a piper himself, being a member of the Pasadena, CA Scottish Pipes & Drums. On the Day will have its world premiere in Glasgow, Scotland, on the eve of the 2010 World Pipe Band Championships, centerpiece of Piping Live! The Glasgow International Festival of Bagpiping! No doubt you will want to own the DVD when it's published.
But, as ever, my memories of the MacDuff Games are not complete without mentioning the Auld Fiddler himself, Leeds, NY's own Ronnie Stewart. He'd always make his music and tell interesting stories behind all the songs he played. Ronnie's fiddling made me happy most of all. I hope he'll return for the 50th Anniversary celebration (presuming, of course, that the Eternals will allow him).
Well, Mortals, methinks your humble Dragonmaster has waxed poetic enough concerning Old Westbury Gardens, so here are the particulars: the 50th Anniversary Clan MacDuff Long Island Scottish Games are gonna happen on Saturday, August 28th, from 8 am to 5 pm; the hour-long Opening Ceremony starts at noon and usually finishes around 1 pm. If you need to know it all, I suggest you bug Games Chairman Jim Hogg, 58 Bayberry Drive, Huntington, NY 11743; or simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. As for me, I gotta log off right now. I believe I have at least two football games to suffer through!