After hosting a spectacular event that brought over a hundred bare-kneed skaters out on one of the coldest days of January, the St. Andrews Society of Montreal has been awarded the laurels for Kilt Skate Capital of Canada for 2017.
Montreal hosted a great event at the Natrel Skating Rink in the Old Port, but they had lots of competition for the bragging rights as Kilt Skate Capital.
Other cities were in close contention. Saskatoon, which was declared the 2016 Kilt Skate Capital, once again hosted a terrific event.
Calgary significantly increased the number of kilt skaters and the festivity of its Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate.
Ottawa, which generally sets the standard for the annual event, had to change venues at the last minute. That didn't prevent great crowds from showing up for the opening ceremonies and enjoying a turn around the Lansdowne Park Skate Court.
A first-time kilt skate city, Toronto established a tradition of hosting the event at Nathan Phillips Square.
Newcomer Lloydminster hosted a kilt skate on its own -- spontaneously deciding to organize an event and demonstrating how the idea of this way to celebrate Scottish culture in Canada is catching on.
Winnipeg held a memorably cold but wonderfully well-attended kilt skate for the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald in 2015, but this year had to cancel because the unseasonably warm February turned its skating rink back into a pond.
What made Montreal the Kilt Skate Capital for 2017? For one thing, sheer numbers -- about a hundred skaters, which is many multiples above the participants in previous years. The St. Andrew's Society of Montreal really pulled out the stops in reaching beyond its own membership.
There were people from the Highland dance societies.
There were people from the curling clubs.
And there were people who were happy to join in because of the invitation: the St. Andrew's Society paid the admission fees to the Natrel Skating Rink for anyone who showed up wearing tartan.
The St. Andrew's Society set up a spot as their off-ice headquarters, and staked out their location with a poster.
There was lots of swag from the Scottish Government.
And they made sure it was distributed to anyone who wanted to help celebrate Canada's Scottish heritage.
They give the Highland dancers an opportunity to showcase their skills.
They brought in a piper to rally the skaters.
And then there was the cake.
Lots of cake!
Cake for everyone...
The St. Andrew's Society of Montreal has already booked the Natrel Skating Rink at Vieux Port for the January 2018 event. This winter, expect to see some new items on their agenda as the kilt skate organizers work with the Scottish Government on a funding proposal for 2018. Details will be released in a future blog.