Wednesday 2nd April
6 members of the history and heritage group Strathleven Artizans left Glasgow airport via Amsterdam and arrived in JFK airport in New York, arriving at 9.00pm at night, after clearing customs we got our taxi in order that our trip could really begin, the taxi journey took about 40 minutes to get us to the Pennsylvania Hotel on 7th Ave at 33rd street straight across from Madison square gardens in middle Manhattan. The hotel Pennsylvania was massive it’s one of the biggest and most popular in Manhattan, the rooms where double rooms 2 big double beds with your own bathroom. Once booked into our rooms we unpacked our cases and went out for our first NY meal, we had all been looking forward to having a NY style pizza which was delicious.
It was than back to hotel to get our heads down to end what was a very long day.
After a lie in we headed up 7th Ave to a cracking wee café called Andrew’s, where we had our breakfast nearly everyday while in NYC, the price’s were very good, the portions, sizes was not as big as we thought, first class service and endless cups of coffee.
The next part of the day the guy’s went shopping the first store we came to was Macy’s a big massive department store like John Lewis here as we went in the door we where handed a voucher for 60% off the sale price, the guys got a few great bargains designer labels too.
The afternoon was spent walking round Times Square and finding way round NYC
The majority of New Yorkers walk this is the best way to get around the place the taxi’s are great but we bought a metro card which gets you onto the bus, subway and trains plus the Staten Island ferry
The St Andrews Society had their Tartan ball at night but with the tickets at $235(£115) we gave it a miss.
The night was ended with a few beers in one of the million’s of Irish bars in NYC
The day started with our visit to Andrew’s café, then a series of phone calls to the St Andrews society for details about the event which was on that night, which was Scotland on Stone Street.
This is a short Street with several pubs and restaurants.(the oldest cobbled street in he USA hence the name Stone St)
This event was kicked off by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers who did a brilliant set
After a few speeches the crowd mingled in Stone street which was cordoned off for this event, It was here we met Duncan Bruce head of the Bruce Clan in NYC/USA, Dennis Hagerty parade organizer and Bill Maitland of the St Andrews society who was a great help and looked after us superbly for which we cannot thank him Enough. Thanks Bill, a great guy, we are looking forward to seeing him over here soon, while mingling with the crowd we met a few familiar faces Our wee pal Joe Kilmartin and the guys from the Bullwood Project who the Artizans have done some work with it was great to see you guy’s there and well done with the totem pole you had made for the Parade, we also met Lesley Patterson from Radio Clyde who were interviewing some of the folk attending this popular bash.
Then it was upstairs in the pub to see the Tartan Specials do their thing brilliant.
This was a great night enjoyed by all, after this it was back to our hotel via the subway.
------The Big Day
After an early rise we headed to the Central Presbyterian Church, 593 Park Av. (64th), for the Kirkin of the Tartan, this was a church service where the Minister’s and Dignitaries got piped in by a pipe band in full Highland dress the service lasted about an hour, the whole congregation then got piped out by the pipe band.
This non-denominational event was followed by a brunch in the Church Hall. The brunch was a ticketed event and seating was limited. This event was organised by the Saint Andrews Society of the State of New York.
Thereafter it was onto the open top bus which took us to the start of the Parade, and a fun time was enjoyed by all on this added tour of Manhattan. We were dropped off at the Algonquin Hotel in time for our appointment with First Minister Alex Salmond who we presented with one of our Great Seals of Robert the Bruce we also met and presented a great Seal to Lawrence Tynes the Scottish born American football player who won the super bowl last month, there was a few other Celebes and politician’s mingling with the crowd, then was time to take up allocated slot in the parade.
The Parade started at 6th Avenue, b/n 45th St. & 58th St.
The New York Tartan Day Parade had pipe bands, individual pipers and drummers, Scottish Groups and the local New Yorker’s who all joined in the celebration of Scotland's past and present and took part in the New York's National Tartan Day Parade. The parade starts at 2:00pm steping off from 45th Street and marching up 6th Avenue ending at 58th Street.
The start of the parade had finish before the end had started the open top bus was at the end of 6th Ave with parade marshal, Alex Salmond and the St Andrews society committee watching the parade come a conclusion, the parade must have lasted about 1 hour it just flew by, again this was an opportunity to mingle with crowd etc and time for photo’s etc, a popular was one was our very own hero John Smeaton from Glasgow airport who was very delighted at getting his photo taking with some Renton men.
There after is was back onto the open top bus for a wee tour round Times Square down 5th Ave/Broadway to Stout’s Bar on 34th Street for the ceilidh, which so happened to be across the Street from our hotel.
On the bus back to Stouts we had a party while driving round NYC with the Red Hot Chillie Pipers providing the entertainment belting out their music, this stopped NYC in it’s track’s, the locals loved it.
After a bite to eat the fun started the Tartan specials played a set, which got the crowd warmed up then it was down stairs for the Red Hot Chillie Pipers and man can they work a crowd pure dead brilliant they blew the roof off, fantastic it certainly was you can see some footage on you tube.
The National Tartan Day New York Committee is thrilled to announce the Post Parade Party will again return to Stout NYC. This not to be missed, sell-out party will feature the best in live Scottish music. Starting at 4:30 pm and running to the late hours, the Post Parade Party will feature the live entertainment of The Tartan Specials and the Red Hot Chillie Pipers was a sell out.
This was a fantastic day and we made a few new friends we met a lovely lady by the name of Betsy Thomson who lives in the Bronx and we enjoyed her company through out the day she is a singer/song writer and her music is fantastic (check it out) after a late night it was time for bed.
The Sunday got off to a late start due to our late night and our daily visit to Andrews café we headed off to the subway to go to Ellis Island where Clan Curry where holding their Tartan day event But unfortunally due to us missing our stop on the subway we ended up in the middle of Brooklyn.
You can imagine 6 Scotsmen Kilted up in the middle of the ghetto we where getting some strange looks and some of the guys getting worried, but we did not have one bit of trouble the locals could not have been more helpful.
By the time we got to the ferry terminal the queue was about 2 miles long we change or mind and did not go to Ellis Island because it would be finish by the time we got there, so a change of plan we jumped on the ferry to Staten Island which went past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island crossing lasted about 35 minutes
Once on the other side we got a bus and went round some of Staten Island, once you have seen this part of NY you know where the rich and the poor live amazing to think that across a river one apartment in Manhattan can cost $40million and you could bye all the homes in Staten Island for that ?? !
I guess that’s America for you ?.
We then returned to hotel to get changed and headed up to Broadway for our dinner the amount of places and Varity of food was amazing (Oh but could’nt find a chippy anywhere)
Tartan Day on Ellis Island returns for its seventh year on Sunday, April 6, 2008(10:00 AM to 4:00 PM). The Clan Currie Society again plays host to a day of celebration of all things Scottish. The 2008 program will feature a broad range of outstanding performers who will present Scotland’s “portable culture” – the music, dance, and folk tales that were brought to this country by Scottish immigrants. In addition, Scottish-themed films including “A New Way to a New World” and “The Crafter’s Song” will be screened in the Ellis Island Theater. For further information on Tartan Day on Ellis Island, visit www.clancurrie.com or contact the Society at (908) 273-3509 or e-mail email@example.com. For complete ferry schedules from Battery Park (NY) and Jersey City (NJ), visit www.circlelinedowntown.com
After our breaky we had a day sightseeing, we visited China town Little Italy
and Ground Zero, we had a nice lunch in Little Italy visited a gun shop and did some more shopping the prices are very cheap compared to home $2 to the £.
In the afternoon we got a bus from down town all the way up to Central Park we had a trip round the park in a horse drawing carriage saw the apartment that John Lennon lived in and was murdered in, then a bus back to hotel, the transport links in NYC are great a weekly Metro card is the cheapest and best way to see this fantastic city.
We ended the day in the St Andrew’s Bar one of the few Scottish bar in New York with a meal and some good Scottish beer.
Also on that day in -New York Public Library
Homecoming Scotland 2009 - a year of celebration of Scottish culture. Listen to lectures on Robert Burns, the Enlightenment, golf and whisky and explore your Scottish roots with ancestral experts. 10am-4pm New York Public Library, South Court Atrium, 5th Avenue at 42nd Street
After Breakfast we headed down to Ground Zero this time we were in full Highland gear to pay our respect to the fallen at the twin towers (Ground Zero) this was a very humbling experience it is hard to imagine unless you have been there just how moving it can be/is, our piper Philip Barlow and drummer David Barlow played several laments at and around Ground Zero this was well received by the gathering crowd and very moving for all the guy’s involved and on behalf of Strathleven Artizans I would like to thank both Philip and David for this tribute.
We spent around 3 hours around Ground Zero we headed down to Wall St and Stone street.
We then went to Times Square where the boys did a wee turn on the pipes and drum which the local’s loved.
After getting change some of the lads went out on the town as this was our last night a few of us went to a pub a called the Rodeo bar with live music where we saw a great local band called fourteen feet who did a great set this was a good end to along day.
Our last day in the big Apple was concluded by a visit to the St.Andrew’s society office where we spent a pleasant few hours in the company of Bill Maitland, Bert Bassett and Angela McCabe, we had the pleasure of presenting the St Andrews Society with one our Great Seal to add to their magnificent collection of Scottish memorabilia and we would like to thank them for looking after us so well while we were in NYC and we look forward to going back again soon. (During the week there was varies events going on but it was impossible to get to them all, anybody that thinking of going I would say YES go for it is a great event and great City)
We headed back to the hotel to collect our bags and await our taxi to take us to the airport, we flew back via Amsterdam on a night time flight we had a great flight home
We arrived back into Glasgow airport Thursday lunch time I like to thank all the guys who went to New York they are Duncan Thomson, John Thomson, Philip and David Barlow, John Patterson and Jim Tannock.
Report by Jim Tannock of Strathleven Artizans.