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Vernon gets ready for the Okanagan Military Tattoo

The Royal Canadian Artillery Band marches into Vernon to take part in the Okanagan Military Tattoo Aug. 1 and 2 at Kal Tire Place. - Photo submitted
The Royal Canadian Artillery Band marches into Vernon to take part in the Okanagan Military Tattoo Aug. 1 and 2 at Kal Tire Place.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Vernon’s Kal Tire Place is about to transform into a ceremonial battlefield, without the gunfire, when the inaugural Okanagan Military Tattoo takes over the arena Aug. 1 and 2.

Those unfamiliar with a military tattoo, it is not an inked design embedded on the fleshy arm of a soldier, but a performance based on an ancient military tradition of music, dancing, pipes and drums as well as military displays.

“It’s called a tattoo because when the British Army was fighting in Belgium 300 years ago, soldiers were called in from the pubs each night for curfew with ‘doe den tap toe,’ Dutch for ‘turn off the tap’. The expression evolved to tap-too and then tattoo,” said Okanagan Military Tattoo producer Norm Crerar.

Visitors to Vernon’s very own tattoo can expect a heavy police presence in the form of the RCMP Pipe Band and the RCMP Ceremonial Troop, along with kilted lads and lassies in a massed pipes and drums, visiting and local military, cadet and community bands, a massed choir, a salute to veterans in commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War, a volunteer firefighters hose reel competition, dance from around the world, and more.

The RCMP will add a colourful element to the ceremonies, said Crerar.

“We have been working with various operating units of the RCMP and our work is paying off,” he said. “In all, there will be some 80 uniformed RCMP in the performance and 10 or so more as support, bringing the total to nearly 100.”

Led by pipe major Hugh Peden, the RCMP “E” Division Pipe Band is comprised of both police and civilian volunteers from throughout B.C., who have come together to share and showcase their musical talent, and to bring the community closer to its national police force.

Peden will also serve as senior pipe major for a massed pipes and drums, featuring members from the Kamloops, Kelowna and the Shuswap Pipe Bands, as well as Vernon’s Kalamalka Highlanders and the Arran Campbell Memorial Pipe Band.

“When these 100 pipes and drums enter the floor at Kal Tire Place, the sound will be awesome,” said Crerar, a piper with the KHPB. “There is something about the pipes that makes people want to stand and cheer.”

Adding to the festivities will be the RCMP Ceremonial Troop, who will perform in much the same manner as the famous RCMP Musical Ride, but will do so on foot instead of on horses, said Crerar.

“I was privileged to see the troop in action at the Pacific Tattoo in Victoria last July and spoke with them then about coming to Vernon,” he said. “Their precision and professionalism is really something to see.”

Besides the visiting Calgary Stampede Band of Outriders, who are just coming off a big week in their hometown, a traditional military band will also be a part of the festivities.

The Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) Band has a long tradition of providing musical support to the Canadian Armed Forces. Based in Edmonton since 1997, the band’s existence can be traced back to the end of the 19th century.

“(The RCA) is one of six regular force bands stationed throughout Canada, with a complement of 35 full-time musicians,” said Crerar. “From military parades, ceremonial occasions, and government functions, to formal concerts or entertaining their fellow soldiers, the RCA Band can be heard performing in a variety of musical styles nationally and abroad.”

International highlights include performances in the U.S., South Korea, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

While in Vernon, the RCA Band will stay at Silver Star Mountain from July 25 to Aug. 3. During this time, they will be working with young musicians in the Vernon Cadet Summer Training Program. (The cadet bands who play pipes, brass and reed instruments, are also performing at the tattoo.)

The RCA Band will give a free concert before the tattoo, July 26 at Silver Star Mountain. The performance starts at 7 p.m. and attendees should bring lawn chairs and a jacket in case of cool weather. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be performed in the 180-seat National Altitude Training Centre at the Star. Members of the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band will also make an appearance at the concert.

The Okanagan Military Tattoo is the only military-style tattoo in Western Canada. Specially priced tickets for veterans, as well adult, senior, student and family rates are available at the Ticket Seller at www.ticketseller.ca or call 250-549-7469. All seating is reserved.

For more information, visit www.okanagantattoo.ca.

 

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