There were Wallaces, Scotts, Hays, and Murrays alongside the Barclays, Cochranes and Gunns — clans all as they prepared to lead their individual colors in the parade visitors and residents alike always look forward to the first weekend in December.
As the Saturday morning sun rose quickly into a crisp blue sky over Alexandria, members of more than 57 Scottish clans, a dozen or more pipe bands and 16 varieties of Scottish dogs all converged in Old Town for the walking of The Campagna Center's 32nd Annual Scottish Christmas Walk. Scarce parking and an earlier 5-inch snowfall were not deterrents to the crowd of spectators who turned out for the day's event.
"This was a huge success, despite the snow," said Katherine Morrison, executive director of The Campagna Center. "It was heartening to see the turnout to see the support not only for The Campagna Center but also for all the non-profits who have been so hard pressed lately. The parade and weekend events were a wonderful experience and it boosted our spirits."
The morning started off with members of the St. Andrew's Society of Washington, a co-sponsor of the parade, laying a wreath at the gravesite of William Hunter in the churchyard of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House on South Fairfax Street. William Hunter founded the St. Andrew's Society of Alexandria in 1788.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE staging area on Wilkes Street, the temperature rose steadily into the low 30s as the pipers, drummers, dogs, clan members, re-enactors, politicians and dignitaries took their places. With the wave of an arm, the same St. Andrew's Society Pipe and Drums of Washington stepped off in unison, filling the air with the familiar sounds of musical hot air.
Lord Provost John Ross Letford, City of Dundee, marched in proud formation as guest of honor in the parade. Olympic skater Michael Weiss and his son, of Fairfax, were grand marshals.
Among the many participants were members of the Kennedy Center opera "Lucia di Lammermoor," champion Deerhounds Black Macallan and Tully Basden (also know as Buster). They trekked the streets of Old Town with more than 30 other Scottish Deerhounds in this year's parade. Even the smallest of dogs were resplendent in plaid cloaks and headgear, bringing smiles to everyone as they strolled by.
Mayor Kerry Donley and Councilmen William Euille and David Speck braved the elements wearing kilts for the first time in the parade. After finishing the parade route, Speck said, "It doesn't get any better than this in Alexandria."
The 71st Regiment of Foot, Fraiser's Highlanders punctuated the air with loud booms from their guns at almost every corner of the parade route. White bellowing smoke lifted into the cool breezy air, and fathers thoughtfully covered the ears of their youngsters.
Clan Hay, American Branch, brought levity to the proceedings by hollering "Hay" to the crowd. The crowd hollered back, "Hey."
Santa Claus, kicked out of public parades in Kensington, Md., a year ago amid much public fanfare, found refuge atop a Kensington fire truck in Alexandria's parade Saturday. He brought up the rear of the parade with Officer Paul Story of the Alexandria Police Department as his escort.
Deerhound owner Alan Wilson, remarked after the parade finished about two hours after it started, "Another beautiful day in Alexandria."
FOLLOWING THE PARADE, the Holiday Designer Tour of Homes was held: 800 S. Lee St. (Patterson home); 119 Wolfe St. (Pinson home); 906 S. Saint Asaph St. (Lewis home); 19 Franklin St. (Boggs/Roy home); 401 S. Lee St. (Smith home); and 614 Oronoco St. (The Lee-Fendall House).