Elk Grove Bagpipe Players March In Big Parade
We revisit a group of firefighter bagpipe players. Members one month ago vowed to learn to play the difficult instruments, so they could march as an honor guard in Elk Grove's 50th Anniversary Western Festival Parade.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Do you happen to remember the honor guard’s practice session from last month?:
SOUND OF VERY BAD PRACTICE
The members of the Cosumnes Community Services District honor guard couldn’t even play a whole song.
But Fire Captain Kris Hubbard, Honor Guard commander, vowed the group would be ready for Elk Grove’s 50th Anniversary Western Festival parade:
Firefighters all across the nation, and worldwide even, they always hold true to their traditions. And this is just my way of honoring the fire service.
At the time, the parade was four weeks away. Hubbard was sure his group could master playing the bagpipes by then.
Fire Chief Steven Foster was solidly behind the effort.
He attended a practice to see how things were going:
MORE SOUND OF BAD PRACTICE
They sounded like a bunch of screaming birds….
But that was then…this is now.
It’s Saturday, May 5th, the day of the big parade. The guys are gathered in the parking lot behind station number 74, snappily dressed in green and blue kilts.
All nine members are practicing their marching moves.
Hubbard says, during the past month, guard members have been bringing out their pipes and drums, even while on duty.
We have been practicing like you wouldn’t believe. We’ve still done our weekly practices. We’ve also gone above that and practiced on our own.
Just a few minutes before the parade begins, Hubbard reveals the honor guard has an extraordinary role:
We are actually going to lead the parade this year, which is really special for us.
The honor guard heads to take its position at the very front of the parade’s 123 other participants.
The crowd is estimated at 30 thousand. It’s an extremely windy day. A kilt could blow up at any time.
Police sirens announce the front of the parade is on its way.
The honor guard appears and the moment of truth is at hand:
SOUND OF PERFORMANCE
The crowd loves it – the music, the kilts, and a surprise performance of Amazing Grace.
They were great. It was neat. They sounded good.
I thought it was fantastic. Amazing Grace was wonderful.
They were awesome.
And what about Chief Foster?
Today was the first day I heard them play a whole song and I honestly admit I had a tear in my eye.
Captain Hubbard is elated after the 4 mile parade:
We’ll have some sore muscles tomorrow from holding the instruments up. But overall the sound and the quality we put together as a group was really good. I heard a lot of clapping, so I think that was a good thing.
This won’t be the last public appearance by the Honor Guard.
Members will next perform at a Memorial Day service.
And their hard work has inspired others in the department.
There’s now a list of firefighters, who are eagerly waiting for THEIR bagpipes to come in.