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As 2012 rang in many of us in the band wondered what the New Year would bring.  There was a different feeling among the group this year…a feeling like something great was about to happen. We all felt the feeling of satisfaction which comes with maturity and the development of experience.  No longer the new guys on the block but still the hungry pipe band, still driving forward, still with something to prove.  Needless to say, the year 2012 did not disappoint. While some traditional events were revisited, the year brought with it a lot of newness as well. It was truly a year like no other. – Lloyd Johnson

The year began with a re-boot of our website which became a fast favorite of the community. We have enjoyed watching the response to the new site and we are hopeful that it will continue forward in its popularity.

As a band made up of public servants and those who are service-minded, we enjoy nothing more than giving back to our communities and 2012 was no exception. We met some new faces this year, such as the NC Chapter of the Wives Behind the Badges Inc., a women’s auxiliary group which serves the law enforcement community as a support group of law enforcement spouses. We were able to strengthen the bonds recently created with groups like the USO, by playing at events such as the Triangle Flight of Honor, which pays tribute to our WWII veterans by allowing the surviving veterans to pay a visit to their departed brothers on the wall in Washington, D.C., only to return to Raleigh to a true hero’s welcome. The USO also asked us to pipe in the start of a charity golf tournament and they gave us a chance to dress classy as we played for their annual Black Tie Gala, where we were surprised and honored to meet the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

St. Patrick's Day 2012

We renewed our friendship with the Jimmy V. Foundation, performing at their Black Tie Gala, which was dedicated this year to our first responders. Once again, we spent St. Patrick’s Day with our good friends in the City ofNorth Myrtle Beach as we were privileged to lead their parade this year. We played Christmas events, like the tree lighting of the Flowers Plantation community in Johnston County. We played commencement ceremonies for graduating students of Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. We helped light up the streets of Pinehurst, during their 4th of July festivities. We played for those that celebrate the culture and heritage our instruments were born from; organizations like NC SCOT, Inis Cairde School of Irish Dance, and the tenth birthday of the Piper’s Tavern in Raleigh. We even had time to participate in some true grass roots community service, as we helped to raise much needed funding for a wee injured lass named Caroline…

Another group of folks that help bring alive the heritage and foster the culture of the Celts is a group that deserves their own paragraph in our year-end installment. They are the outstanding folks that make up the Tir Na nOg Irish Pub in Raleigh headed by owner Pete Pagano and General Manager, Cruise Director and Band Mom Annie Nice. From the very beginning the band began to take shape in this pub, and the people involved there threw their hearts into the band just the same as we did and have never looked back. The 1st day we met Annie, her son Andrew was sitting outside enjoying a pint, and he said to one of the Not YET formed band members “YOU” need to find my Mom and talk to her.  Andrew told his mom to find us (he had a great sense of direction).

WATCH-OUT-irish-footbal

We were asked to play for many of their events this year, like the Green Run, Burns’ Night, Raleigh Irish Fest, Celtic Christmas, Raleigh Gaelic Athletic Association events, and most recently, the 15th Birthday Celebration of the Pub itself. Every year we try to find the words to describe what this place and its people mean to us, and every year it is the same; no matter how hard we look, there are no words that adequately do the job. To Pete, Annie and the whole family at the pub; we thank you so much for all that you do for us and we love you all dearly.

Another organization that has given much to our group over the years has been the City of Raleigh Fire Department. We got the chance to give back to them this year, as they celebrated their 100th Anniversary as a professional, paid fire department. We were honored to lead off the Centennial Day Parade with the RFD Honor Guard escorting the Colors proudly. We also signaled the opening of the 100th Anniversary Gala, a first of its kind for the department. We played for the graduating class of RFD Academy 37, as well as several promotional ceremonies throughout the year. With three of our current band members being active duty and retired Raleigh Fire, we share a common bond that is ever present.

This band formed to serve, honor and when necessary, remember our brothers and sisters in public safety. While we may not receive invitations to play for all of the fallen, we feel the sting no less. When called on, we played, and when necessary, we stood quietly by and sent our condolences as public servants across the state and beyond were laid to rest, having given their all to their fellow man.

RFD @ 100 Parade

We honored the peacekeepers, during events like the Wake County Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the annual Run For Our Heroes, and from agencies like the Watauga County Sheriff’s, Bladen County Sheriff’s, Lumberton P.D., and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, as they gently laid their brothers to rest. We honored the firefighters, as the White Oak F.D. Antioch F.D. Kernersville F.D., and Bladen County Emergency Services all sent brothers home this year. We honored a fallen medic from Pinetops, NC as he was called home following service to his community. We also helped pipe home a very special public servant that is truly missed by children all over Wake County. He taught many of them to stop, drop and roll and gave them all very heartfelt and wet kisses. Angus the Firefighter Canine served his community as his brothers in the Durham Highway Fire Department do today; with all of his heart.

The band was honored to send a representative to Fort Bragg in tribute to soldiers lost this year from the 16th Military Police Brigade, Airborne. Once again, the band sent a contingent of our firefighter membership to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in Emmetsburg, Maryland, where the families of the fallen were held up in support and love, and the fallen were honored with respect and reverence.

Drumming Clinic with AR2

2012 has been a real breakout year for Wake & District in the area of competition. Through hard work and commitment from many instructors and players, we were able to field competition bands in both Grade IV and Grade V this year. We traveled as far as Delaware to see how we would stand up to some of the Eastern United States greatest bands. Our drumming competitors spent entire weekends in workshops with professional instructor Andrew Hoinacki, owner of AR2 Drumming. Several pipers spent hours under the instruction of renowned instructor and adjudicator Ken McKeveny.

Fair Hill 2012

All of our competitors reached into their own pockets in order to travel to highland games competitions throughout the Eastern U.S., not in an effort to aggrandize themselves, but instead to further themselves as musicians and further the reputation and good name of this band. In the end we did pretty well, with the Grade IV band placing 16th out of 61 bands and the Grade V band placing 8th out of 103 bands. Several of our band members placed extremely well in solo competition as well. We are all very proud of their musicianship, professionalism and dedication to the mission, a dedication that we all share.

This year saw the welcome return of a fan favorite that took a break last year. What used to be called our Tartan Ball was this year renamed the “Fall Fling”, and that it was. While it was a more intimate affair than in years past, it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered, as it was one of the most well received and complemented events of its kind we have had to date.

2013-montage

It is our hope that we have done everyone proud through our actions and service. We continue to answer the call that is our mission; to honor our fallen. We will continue to strive for improvement. We reaffirm our commitment to our brothers, our families, and our community at each rehearsal, and at every event. We hope you will come out and see us in the coming year and be pleased with the sights and sounds we provide. We wish everyone all the best and look forward to new experiences, new friendships and new opportunities to serve all of you.

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