It was a grand finale for Scottish Month in Canada. As part of the finale of the PotashCorp WinterShines festival, the Saskatchewan city of 300,000 people brought out scores of skaters for the 2nd Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate -- and skaters of all ages!
Even those too young to skate got into the spirit.
It was a great family occasion to learn to skate.
Some skaters celebrated Sir John A. with bare knees and ice.
While others preferred to keep their legs warm.
What was Saskatoon's secret? The weather helped. Last year, the temperature as around minus-30, but that didn't stop Sandy Campbell from playing the bagpipes while he skated the first Sir John A skate in 2015.
This year, the temperatures were more amenable to Sandy's playing. We're trying to track down a Youtube video of his 2016 performance, but in the meantime, check out the facebook link on the Scottish Pavilion page.
It didn't hurt that the kilt skate at Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink was held just before -- and a few blocks away from -- the WinterShines attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the world's biggest snowball fight.
But much of the credit must go to the hard work and dedication of the Saskatoon Highland Dancing Association (SHDA), in partnership with the Scottish Pavilion of Saskatoon Folkfest. Not only did the organizers work very effectively with WinterShines, they made special efforts to turn the Saskatoon kilt skate into a very festive atmosphere -- including providing free hot chocolate and shortbread to skaters.
Saskatoon also did an excellent job of raising the profile of the kilt skate in the local and regional media. Here is SHDA member Katie in conversation Radio-Canada's Estelle Cote-Sroka -- you'll find the interview at the 2:10:20 mark. Katie talks about the strength, stamina and training required to be a highland dancer in order to make those jumps; Estelle asks her whether she's going to jump at the kilt skate. Now there's something to consider for future years: a highland dancing skate competition!
Altogether an outstanding event! Congratulations, Saskatoon. You've set a high standard for the rest of the kilt skate cities to reach in 2017, Canada's 150th birthday.
Oh, and about that snowball fight? Saskatoon now holds the bragging rights for the world's biggest snowball fight, according to Guinness. Take that right in the kisser, Seattle!