Pipe bands from across B.C. are preparing for a return to the Netherlands on the 75th anniversary of the country’s liberation from Nazi Germany.
More than 20 Okanagan pipers met at the Vernon Cadet Camp Saturday, March 7, to practice for the excursion to the former European battlegrounds.
Led by Kelowna Pipe Band Major Chad Goodman, the pipers and drummers filled a spacious warehouse with the sound of the traditional songs they’ll perform at a number of significant events in May.
“We’re very excited about this trip, we’re planning it in eight different venues over in the Netherlands,” Goodman said.
Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band Major Maureen Soichuk is among the 75 pipers and drummers who will make the trip next month.
“We’re so looking forward to it, to seeing the history, and we are doing a trip to Vimy Ridge to play there which is such an honour,” she said.
In addition to the Vimy Ridge memorial – the site of Canada’s most celebrated military victory – the band members will perform Remembrance services in the Dutch village of Diever, take part in a King’s Day celebration and a number of other parades and commemorations around the Netherlands.
About 10 current and former Highlanders players will be making the trip. Soichuk says she looks forward to playing with those former Highlanders again.
“It’ll be good to see them again … getting together with old friends.”
The pipers and drummers will be doing a pub crawl in the Vernon area tonight, March 7, stopping in at 11 different venues. The pub crawl is a final fundraiser for the trip to the Netherlands.
“After two years of fundraising we’re so close but we’re just short on bussing costs,” said Carrie Whittla, treasurer of the Kelowna Pipe Band.
On Thursday Kootenay MLA Tom Shypitka took a moment in the B.C. Legislature to praise the band’s pilgrimage.
“This is a proud moment for all of these band members to represent British Columbia,” he said. “Hats off for the coordinating efforts of piper major Chad Goodman with the Kelowna Pipe Band Society.”