The Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band is celebrating its 35th anniversary. (Contributed)

Vernon pipe band celebrates 35th year

The Kalamalka Highlanders started in 1984 and are now the largest pipe band in the Okanagan

What began as a group of individuals in kilts and jackets is now a 35-year Vernon tradition.

That’s how many years the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band is celebrating this year while already looking forward to another 35 years of music, events, parades and community involvement.

The Highlanders will start year 36 at the beginning of September with two dates: Monday, Sept. 2, at House of Dwarfs at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 5, at E20 DND grounds, also starting at 6:30 p.m.

The doors are open to anyone who would like to become a member of the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band. For more information, call 250-306-2594.

You’ll see them at Canada Day celebrations, the Winter Carnival, the Falkland Stampede Parade, Lumby Days, the Lumby Christmas Light Up, and periodically at Penticton’s Peachfest Parade — and you won’t miss their distinctive burgundy Prince Charles jackets and grey and burgundy kilts.

On Nov. 11 every year, the Highlanders deploy to local communities such as Lavington, Lumby and Armstrong and work in concert with the Vernon School District to provide their plaintive music to Remembrance Day ceremonies.

The Highlanders have been the musical backdrop for events such as Run For the Cure at Marshall Fields, and Do it For Dad at the Coldstream Ranch.

The band continues to work with community groups for events like Kidney Walk and the IPE Parade.

The band has a competitive spirit, too. The Highlanders were the overall winners of the Spring Fling competition in 2017 and 2018, and finished runnerup this year.

Read More: Kalamalka Highlanders defend title

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They’ve carried on a long tradition of community support, starting with St. John’s Ambulance, who provided assistance with the purchase of drums for the band.

The Royal Canadian Legion in Vernon and Lumby as well as the Army Navy Air Force Veterans Club have continued to be strong supporters of the Pipe Band.

More recently the Highlanders established an affiliation with Vernon’s militia unit, The BC Dragoons, and participated this summer in the change of command parade, assisted by members of the Kelowna Pipe Band Society and Shuswap Pipes and Drums.

Pipe Major Maureen Soichuk is a former member of Vernon’s Macintosh Pipe Band. Original Pipe Major Reg Scott, Pipe Sergeant Gord Mathers and Drum Sergeant Neil Morrison have been working hard over the years to bring a mix of current and traditional piping music to parades and events.

Many past and present pipers have gone on to do big things in the area, such as Don Campbell who in 1994 founded Summer Drummer at Silver Star, which has since grown to Piping Hot Summer Drummer and is currently one of the largest piping and drumming schools in North America.

Meanwhile, piper Norm Crerar along with Derek Hallhas been the driving force of the Okanagan Military Tattoo, which recently completed its sixth annual event in Vernon.

KHPB has been a part of many other local events, including the opening of the Performing Arts Centre and Rotary Dream Auctions.


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