This weekend the Greenville Scottish Games were held at Furman University. Laura and I decided to take we wanted to get in on all of the party, so we went to both the parade down Main Street on Friday and the games themselves on Saturday.
This year Prince Edward, youngest son of Queen Elizabeth, was special guest at the games. He was there ostensibly to present the Duke of Edinburgh award to the contestants of the Miss South Carolina Contest. In order to qualify for the award, the contests had to show some athletic skill. That’s where the Scottish Games come in – princess wannabees wearing tiaras and throwing axes and hammers. I’m not kidding.
Friday night was the parade. Laura and I headed downtown. The plan was to find a spot somewhere in the middle of the parade route. However, the crowds were larger than we thought, so we wound up parking at River Place and walking toward the end of the route.
The spots we found to watch the parade were at City Hall, and turned out to be perfect. Right next to us was the VIP tent. The parade started with a color guard and a re-enactment regiment serving as honor guard. These stopped and turned in formation right in front of us, as a blue Rolls Royce pulled up and deposited the Prince.
The rest of the parade proceeded with participants in the games, including the “heavy athletes”, pipe bands, and various other demonstrators. Miss South Carolina, Miss Teen South Carolina, and Miss America, along with contestants for the state pageants participated. It was quite a bit of fun.
After the parade we wandered back down at River Place. Miraculously, we were able to get a table at Lazy Goat, and had a great view of the Peace Center Amphitheater where the post-parade Ceilihd was taking place. The band Coyote Run was getting the crowds revved up for the games to come.
Saturday morning we got up early and headed to Furman. It turned out that the opening ceremonies were an hour later than we had thought, so we had time to check out some of the competitions. In progress was the hammer and stone throwing, piping, and demonstrations by the re-enactors. And, yes, the Miss South Carolina contestants were there.
We headed back to the main viewing stand and watched the last of the sheaf toss competition. Two competitors were going for a world record 37 feet, but didn’t quite make it.
Then came the grand pageantry of the opening ceremonies. First the color and honor guards entered and too position in front of the main stage.
Then Prince Edward entered in his blue Rolls Royce. He took a circuit around the grounds so he could wave to everyone.
Then came the mass bands. Laura and I were right at the edge of the field, so we got to see (and hear) them up close and personal.
Finally, there was the gathering of the clans. Each decked out in traditional tartans and carrying ceremonial swords.
It was quite the show. The Chieftan of Clan Sinclare was an honored guest, and declared the games open. The bands did a quick turn around, then exited the field while playing. The Prince began wandering through the clan tents visiting with the people.
We stuck around and watched more of the sheaf toss and some of the caber toss. With the caber, it seemed that some of the skinnier guys were having more luck tossing the 18 foot, 115 lb pole. A couple of them actually turned it.
Laura and I wandered down to the food and vendors section. A large tent was set up where a band was playing. It turned out to be Coyote Run, the same band from last night.
I took a minute to check in at the Clan Cameron tent, but by this time we were getting quite tired, so we headed back toward the car. Out on the mall there was a British car show underway, so we paused to look at some of the classic automobiles. Laura lingered longingly at a Triumph TR3 similar to the one her father owned.
All in all, it was a great experience. We really wanted to see the sheep dog trials and some of the dancing competition, but we were pretty tired by this time. The high ceremony was spectacular, and this year there didn’t seem to be as many Braveheart wannabees as in previous years. I’m wondering how they are going to top this one next year.