In some ways, Calgary is the spiritual home of the kilt skate. It's where my pride in my Scottish forebears was nurtured. And it's a place where people are thrawn enough not to care that it's 20-below. They go skating in kilts anyway.
But the morning of Sunday, February 11, dawned cold and brittle. So cold, shadows froze to the sidewalks. So cold, God had to jump-start the northern lights. So cold, that teenagers zipped up their jackets. But the team of volunteers under the guidance of the St. Andrew-Caledonian Society of Calgary were preparing the venue.
David Aftergood organized the skate. Here he is with the President of the Society, Robert Henderson.
The shadows shrank a little, and the sun climbed toward noon.
Then it was time to lace up the skates...
For some, it was a chance to learn the basics and get comfortable on the ice.
For others, a chance to glide with fanfare and flare.
For some, a day to get together with family and friends.
At 12:30, the skaters gathered for the opening ceremonies.
David Aftergood was Master of Ceremonies.
Robert Henderson brought greetings from the Prime Minister of Canada. The Skater-in-Chief thanked the Scottish Government for its support and talked about how the kilt skates were spreading to cities across Canada. And the St. Andrews Caledonian Gaelic Choir sang O Canada in both English and Gaelic -- followed by a rousing chorus of Scots Wha Hae.
But by far the biggest celebrity was Harvey the Hound, mascot of the Calgary Flames.
Everyone wanted their picture taken with Harvey.
Opening ceremonies completed, it was time to cut the cake...
...and serve the hot chocolate. In the shade, it was still minus-20 so the hot chocolate was well appreciated.
But here's the thing about winter in southern Alberta: temperatures can be very cold, but the sun can be very strong. And so on the corner of Calgary's Olympic Plaza where the sun shone brightly, it was warm enough to play the bagpipes -- at least if your as talented as Robert Henderson.
And if it's warm enough to play the pipes, it's warm enough to dance!
Calgary has a very strong Highland dance community.
There were other ways to keep warm in a sub-Arctic afternoon. A firepit near the rink was a good place to warm up bare knees.
And whether you wore a tartan jacket...
...or tartan trews...
...or tartan pajamas...
...or a tartan hat...
...or went the full nine yards with a kilt...
...you were more than welcome at the Fourth Annual Sir John A's Great Canadian Kilt Skate.
And you were welcome at the James Joyce pub afterwards, where Irish hospitality helped warm up some cold but happy Scots.
And for David Aftergood and the St. Andrew-Caledonian Society's Margot Montgomery, a well deserved refreshment after they put together a terrific event.