‘Tis Tartan Day

As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

On April 6, 1320, Bernard of Kilwinning wrote a letter to the Pope, proclaiming Scotland as an independent, sovereign state. Bernard was then the head of Arbroath Abbey, a monastery along the coast of the North Sea, and the document, written in Latin and sealed by eight earls and about forty barons, became known as the Declaration of Arbroath.

More than six hundred and fifty years later, a group of New Yorkers chose the date of Bernard’s missive to celebrate their Scottish heritage. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and by 1998 the U.S. Senate recognized Scottish-Americans’ contributions to the nation by declaring April 6 as National Tartan Day.

The Scots-centric festivities have grown and become a yearly event, dubbed Tartan Week, which honors all things related to the land once known as Caledonia. The highlight of the week is the loud and colorful Tartan Day Parade.

In the first New York Tartan Day Parade, a small, loosely organized group marched across the Upper East Side, from the British Consulate to the United Nations, while clad in kilts and playing bagpipes.

Today the 17th annual New York Tartan Day Parade was held on Sixth Avenue. It featured thousands of bagpipers, marchers, dancers, dogs and representatives of organizations from all over the world who strode up the street, delighting all the Scots and “temporary, honorary Scots” who lined the route in Midtown Manhattan.

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No Sixth Avenue bus today

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Marchers taking a break

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Shamrock tattoo

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Ready to march

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Marching and waving

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Bearskin hat

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Her first time marching

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Temporary, honorary Scot

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Carrying a staff

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Waving the flag

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Pipers chatting before the parade

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Bagpipers practicing

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Tartan Day Parade bus

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Marcher meets officer

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The Westie and Scottie Pack

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Clan MacLare

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Waving flags

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Girls leading the pipers

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Marching and piping

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The Grand Marshal isn’t as interesting as his phone

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Playing at 46th Street

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West Point Cadet Corps

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Seasoned marchers

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Pipers and drummers

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Best seat in town

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Greenwich Pipe Band

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Clan Chattan Confederation, Clan McBean, Clan Shaw

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Happy marchers

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Clan Kincaid

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Marching trio

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Scotland’s most famous citizen

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It’s Nessie!

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Clan Munro Association, Thailand

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If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap

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American Scottish Foundation

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Folk dancers

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NYC Police Band

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University of Strathcylde

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Marchers laughing

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Tri-County Pipe Band

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Dog in a kilt

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Atlantic Watch Pipes & Drums

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Group wearing thistle t-shirts

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Sauntering on the sidewalk after the parade

The National Archives of Scotland: The Declaration of Arbroath
Historic Environment Scotland: Arbroath Abbey
Scotland’s National Tourist Board: Arbroath Abbey
Undiscovered Scotland Bernard of Kilwining
New York Tartan Day Parade
NYC Tartan Week
St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York
New York Caledonian Club
American-Scottish Foundation

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