A Tartan for New York City
During the Tartan Day celebrations on 5/6 April 2002, the people of Scotland presented New York City with a special Scottish tartan. At a prestigious charity gala dinner on Friday 5th April, The Rt. Hon Eric Milligan, Lord Provost of Edinburgh presented Mayor Michael Bloomberg with this tartan in recognition of the friendship and solidarity between Scotland and the United States.
Travel writer Vivien Devlin was present at the gala dinner. This is her account of the event and the background to the special occasion.
The McLennium Tartan in 2000
The story of the new New York tartan goes back to 2000, the year of the Millennium. A parade of over 8,000 pipers and drummers took place along Princes Street in the August of that year to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer care. One of the pipe bands taking part was the McGregor Clan, of which family includes the well known Hollywood actor, Ewan McGregor who comes from Crieff in Perthshire, who is a keen bagpipe player. New kilts were required for some of the pipers and it was decided to commission a special tartan for the occasion. Lochcarron of Scotland, based at their mills in Galashiels was given the task of creating and making kilts and ties of a special tartan - the McLennium tartan to celebrate the new century and this record breaking parade of pipers in Edinburgh.
Other key participants including Gavin Hastings and two young boys, who were introduced to Prince Charles, also wore this new McLennium tartan.
Picture of Tunes of Glory Parade, Courtesy of Tunes of Glory">Graeme JW Smith
Charity Fund Raising
Following the success of the Princes Street Millennium Pipe and Drums parade, it was quickly decided to try to break the record again - in New York. The plans began in September 2000 to organise a major parade in the centre of Manhattan, this time with the aim to raise $1,000,000 for the two cancer charities, Marie Curie in Scotland and Gilda's Club Worldwide in America. Scottish Power agreed to be brand sponsors and the creation of the ScottishPower Tunes of Glory parade began in earnest.
Sarah Grotrian, the Director of Marie Curie in Edinburgh and her son, Thomas, director of Epic Concepts Ltd, the company producing the Tartan Day parade, were keen to commission a new tartan for this major Scottish event in America.
As described to me by Tara Gibson, the Public Relations director for Lochcarron, it was in July 2001 when Lochcarron of Scotland, following the creation of the McLennium tartan, was invited to take on the design and manufacture of a new tartan which would be given prominent focus on Tartan Day, 2002. Following the tragic events of September 11th, the significance of both the Tunes of Glory Pipe band parade and the new tartan took on a completely different and significant symbolic tribute. The tartan would now serve as an important symbol and gesture of friendship between the two nations, to be presented as a gift from the people of Scotland to the people of New York.
Presentation at Scottish Pipes and Drums Ball
A glittering and glamourous Scottish Pipes and Drums Ball took place on April 5th at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue. Leading Scottish companies, banks and industries, including Scottish Power, Dewar`s, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Stagecoach, the Scottish Executive and VisitScotland invited prestigious American guests and celebrities to join their tables for this important Charity raising gala dinner dance. The ScottishPower pipe band welcomed everyone to the occasion with a rousing march through the beautiful ballroom and the Hank Lane Revue in reply played a few well known American blues songs.
After grateful thanks were given to Thomas Grotrian and Magnus Orr of Epic Concepts, the producers of the ScottishPower Tunes of Glory parade, and the directors of the charities involved, it was the turn of the Rt. Hon, Eric Milligan, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh to take the stage. He spoke passionately and emotionally about the strong ancestral and cultural links between the people of Scotland and America. He described the feeling of friendship and solidarity that was felt for the American citizens following the events in September 2001 and of the vital importance to work together for a world of peace and prosperity.
The Lord Provost then presented the Mayor Bloomberg with the New York City tartan as a gift from the people of Scotland.
The New York Tartan
The colours and design of the New York tartan have a specific image and meaning and were specially selected. The light blue represents the Hudson river, the green symbolises the lush green pastures of Central park, at the heart of Manhattan. The dark blue signifies the Marie Curie cancer care and red that of Gilda`s Club Worldwide. The two black lines, designed in a cross, offer a sign of condolence in memory of those who died on September in the Twin Towers tragedy.
Following the presentation, the talented young harpist Katie Targett-Adams from Edinburgh was invited to play for us. She brought the house down with her beautiful melodic version of New York, New York, sung to the delicate strains of the Celtic Harp. This beautifully captured the strong and ancient cultural connections between Scotland and the United States of America. Katie then sang a new song, specially written for Tartan Day 2002, Tune of Glory. The presentation of the New York tartan and this celtic harp performance certainly brought the evening to an exhilarating start.
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