George Watson’s step aboard Queen Mary
The 25th anniversary of the ScotsFestival held on and around the Queen Mary ocean-liner hotel in Long Beach, California, will see the Juvenile band from George Watson’s College travel from Edinburgh to vie for the Grade 3 title.
A total of 10 bands and more than 150 soloists are entered for competitions that are held on both February 17th and 18th. Band contests go up to Grade 3. The hometown Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots will perform at the event.
George Watson’s College have competed at least twice in Ontario, and the journey to Los Angeles marks the band’s first trip to the United States. Watson’s is a prestigious private school with a strong piping and drumming program.
Grade 1 Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe-Major Ross Harvey runs the piing program and Grade 1 Police Scotland Fife Lead-Drummer Mick O’Neill handles the drumming. The Juvenile band is traveling with some 40 members, teachers and parents, and reportedly will take in the Southern California sights, including Disneyland.
The band has won the Juvenile World Championship six times, and last year was runner-up to Dollar Academy.
Renowned piper Fred Morrison will end his North American Tour with a performance on the Saturday night at the ceilidh.
Judges include the RSPBA’s Jim Baxter and Gordon Lawrie coming in from Scotland; Vancouver’s Grade 1 Dowco Triumph Street Pipe-Major David Hilder and Pipe-Sergeant Shaunna Hilder, David and Liza McAdam from Sacramento, California; and Scotland’s Bruce Hitchings is handling solo piping events only.
RMS Queen Mary was built in Clydebank, Scotland. After it was retired as an ocean-liner, the ship was purchased and dry-docked in Long Beach where it is a thriving hotel and tourist attraction. Many competitors at the games will spend the weekend on the ship.