Bagpipes abound at West Point fest

by | Apr 16, 2013 | Press

NYS Supreme Court Officers Association’s Secretary, Patrick O’Malley, is a member of the NYS Courts Pipes & Drums Band.bilde

Thirteen groups from the tri-state area performed Sunday at the The 31st Annual Pipe and Drum Tattoo held at West Point. The New York State Court Pipe Band is above.

By Nathan Brown

Times Herald-Record

WEST POINT — The U.S. Military Academy felt a bit like Scotland on Sunday.

The wind blew. Kilt-wearing men played bagpipes and drums with the crags of the Hudson Highlands and West Point’s legend-filled buildings as the backdrop.

Thirteen pipe bands from the Hudson Valley and the tri-state area played at West Point’s 31st annual Military Tattoo, at the Trophy Point Amphitheater, with the Hudson River behind them.

More than a hundred family, friends and fans of pipe music watched from lawnchairs and on blankets spread in the shadow of the Civil War monument and surrounded by cannons that were taken as trophies of America’s 18th- and 19th-century wars.

West Point’s Hellcats kicked off the event. Several groups from Orange County or with Orange County contingents were there, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Orange County and the Hudson Valley Regional Police Pipe and Drums.

The Firefighter McPadden Pipes & Drums, many of whose members are firefighters and who hold practice at the Goshen fire house, were playing at the Tattoo for the first time Sunday.

“We’re trying to make (a number of) events,” said Mike Minnock.

“Get the band’s name out there,” added Chris McGraw of Goshen, who hopes to start playing with them soon.
The group started with a couple of members and has grown to about 25. It was founded in 2009 and is named after Robert McPadden, a New York City firefighter killed on Sept. 11, 2001 when the South tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

The band is in “Nine Weeks ’til 9/11,” an upcoming documentary on people’s thoughts about that day and where we are 10 years later.

They’ve played in a number of firemen’s parades and St. Patrick’s Day parades in the area, and at Celtic events such as the Capital District Scottish Games, the Hunter Mountain Celtic Festival and the Rockland County Feis and Field Games, said member Joe Burns of Goshen, who’s been playing bagpipes for 28 years.

They’ve placed in some of the competitions — for example, they came in second in last year’s Feis, and third in the Round Hill Highland Games.

“It’s good to give back to the community,” McGraw said.