Trust Us, It’s Big: Kincardine Pipe Band Parades

I live in a really great little town. Every Saturday night in the summer months, our Scotland-rooted ville gatherseli parade downtown to watch the local bagpipe band march from one end of the street to the other and back. They play a mini-concert at the end. Hundreds of locals and tourists line the streets with lawn chairs and flags and drums and kilts and ice cream cones to see the pipers pipe and the drummers drum. They’ve been doing it rain or shine since 1948. Once the band walks past you, you are encouraged to follow in behind for the rest of the parade. And we do.

I first remember coming to the parades when I was just small when we came up to the Brown’s cottage for visits. Little did I know then, that (I’d be living here) I’d be joining the parade every week.

As I got older, the parade wasn’t really all that exciting for me and the novelty had weaned, but every time we brought friends with us to our cottage, we’d go. When Rob and I moved to Kincardine in 2005, we occasionally wandered up to the parades when my parents were up. We’d run up the hill at 7:59,  jump in the parade at the corner of Durham as it passed and then duck into the Hawg’s for a pint (about 25 steps away). That way, we could still enjoy the bag piping.

We brought Eli up to the parades his first two summers – the first summer in a wrap and the second in a stroller. He was always smiling and happy, but this summer he really gets it. And loves it. Every night after dinner he asks, “Walk? Blinky?“. He doesn’t quite grasp the concept of the future yet, so saying “next week” or “on Saturday”, does not do us any good. “Not today. Soon.” He isn’t usually satisfied with that answer and continues to ask.

blinky eli girls

Blinky is Kincardine’s highly protected mascot. He is a giant lighthouse and walks in every parade after the band. Eli is both infatuated and scared of him. The first week he stood and stared at him for about 10 minutes (see photo). He finally got up enough courage to give him a fist bump. The second week he was completely scared to the point of tears. This past week he was nervous, but didn’t want to miss his big chance to hug him. Throughout the week Eli will bring me the ipad and ask to watch pipeband videos over and over and over again. As soon as he sees blinky’s red top, he yells “Ther’ee is!”. He asks for a rewind as soon as Blinky is gone. Repeat.

We love our weekly ritual of meeting friends on the corner of Durham and walking as close to the front of the crowd as we can to hear the pipes and drums as we walk. At the end of the street we visit with Blinky, bang on the drums of the band members and catch up with the locals. Once the band continues back down the street, we veer off and walk home together into the sunset. Come march with us! xo


(NB to friends: This is not the shirt-tail parade for the Old Boys Reunion – in which we’ve probably invited you and 56 of our closest friends. That parade is in 2018 and it only happens once every 10 years- Just enough time to forget about the last one. THIS parade is a bit more family-friendly and happens weekly. See this vid for an idea – the first of the year and near the start. Most people join in later down the road!)


Have you ever been to a Kincardine Pipe Band Parade? Did you love it? Hate it? Confused?
Does your town have a mascot? Is it both loveable and scary at the same time?
What are your family rituals?