Countdown in Ottawa and Calgary

Less than 48 hours to go for the kilt skates scheduled in Ottawa and Calgary, and the organizers are scrambling with last minute details and media interviews.

The Ottawa event launches at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the Mayor and the local Member of Parliament and Member of Provincial Parliament in attendance. Mayor Jim Watson will proclaim January 16 as Sir John A. Macdonald Day in the city, and Catherine McKenna MP and Yasir Naqvi MPP will be there to help him cut the ribbon (a Macdonald tartan, of course).

  The opening ceremonies at the 2015 Winterlude kilt skate.  Joining Sir John A. and the ice hogs are Heather Theoret, Kevin MacLeod, John Ivison, Mayor Jim Watson, and Bobby Watts.

The opening ceremonies at the 2015 Winterlude kilt skate.  Joining Sir John A. and the ice hogs are Heather Theoret, Kevin MacLeod, John Ivison, Mayor Jim Watson, and Bobby Watts.

Official ceremonies like this require sound systems and extension cords, birthday cake and hot chocolate, tables and tents.  When we first conceived of having a modest event centred around a canal-side pub, we didn't think it was going to be much of a fuss.  But in the weeks since Hogmanay, as more attention focuses on the kilt skate, and more possibilities open, there are more and more details to be attended to.

Fortunately, we have a very dedicated cadre of volunteers. Heather Theoret is our Secretary at the Scottish Society of Ottawa and keeps us all in line and on deadline.  Last year, she did yeoman's service at the s kilt skate, wrangling the Mayor and attending to last minute issues.  This year, she's been the indispensable strategist and organizer -- thinking ahead to what we will need as the scope of the event continues to expand. 

  Heather Theoret and John ivison at the confederation park finale of the 2015 kilt skate.

Heather Theoret and John ivison at the confederation park finale of the 2015 kilt skate.

Her right arm has been Jackie McKeown, who first came to us as a volunteer for Hogmanay, and has been given responsibility for solving the kinds of problems that take clear thinking, sharp attention to detail, and patience... lots of patience.

Take the matter of tents, for example.  Last year it was easy.  We were a partner with Winterlude, and they supplied the tents.  This year, Jackie was tasked with solving the tent problem.  At first, she thought it would be easy -- she has a lot of connections in this town who use portable tents:  a lavender farm, a winery owner, friends who work for golf clubs, the former owner of a decor store, two event planners, two decorators, and someone from the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. Then there were the people we know through the SSO, including the whisky merchants. One by one, Jackie contacted them, hopes riding high that the problem would be solved at last.  And each time, for one good reason or another, they had to turn her down.

In the end, it was her connection with an event planner that led her to The Ottawa Fringe Festival, who was able to lend us the tent.  Thanks, Fringe Festival!  Lang may your lum reek!

On another front, we're getting lots of requests for media interviews.  I was asked to go on air on CKCU Tuesday morning, and will be on CFRA Saturday morning.  Last year on CFRA, I had to advise listeners that, as the temperature with wind chill was minus 35, it would be the pragmatic and Scottish thing to do to wear longjohns under the kilt. This year, the forecast looks more promising.

Tomorrow morning at 9:45, Alix Williams, Ross May and I will appear on CTV Morning Live. If the weather allows, we may do the interview outdoors so that Ross will be able to play the bagpipes.  Alix will bring Hamish of the Clan Haggis and his beautiful wife Heather.  The two haggi have recently arrived from Scotland as our official mascots, and this will be their first television appearance.

  Alix williams introduces the haggi, Hamish of the clan haggis and his wife heather, to seymour hamilton, january 11, 2016.

Alix williams introduces the haggi, Hamish of the clan haggis and his wife heather, to seymour hamilton, january 11, 2016.

I've put a call into Denise, who is helping to organize the Calgary kilt skate on behalf of the Optimist Club, and hope to be able to update on those preps very soon!