In the blink of an eye our lives changed with Covid-19.
The pandemic forced the world into isolation, including the Almonte Legion Pipe Band. On March 17 the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency, closing all non-essential business, travel and gatherings, and our Pipe Band (along with every other band, club and social group around the world) struggled with the loss of our practice and social time together. We quickly regrouped and established a Monday night Zoom Social Hour with some practice but mostly connection.
On March 21st, we stepped outside in our own back yards along with bagpipers around the world and played Amazing Grace (#PipersAgainstCorona) and then again on April 12, Easter Sunday. The reaction to this simple gesture floored us, and hundreds of people thanked us for playing. The bagpipes have always been a rallying call, and we quickly saw what we needed to do. We wanted to support our very local long-term care and senior residences that were hit very badly with Corona-19 outbreaks. We wanted to rally the healthcare providers, seniors, veterans and community who had been locked down in this health battle. We wanted to bring cheer to the community. The skirl of the pipes and their call for pride, bravery and action is universal. We decided to bring together a few local pipers on Wednesday evenings and visit our local seniors and veterans as safely as possible. And so, the Covid Pipers were formed.
April 15th was the first appearance of the Covid Pipers. Three pipers and a photographer, physically distanced, made a round (in separate cars) to Almonte County Haven, Orchard View, and the home of a veteran to play a few tunes. We tried to be stealthy, since the last thing we wanted was to draw a crowd, but we did take video and post to our Facebook page. Imagine our surprise when more than 40,000 people watched the videos! The rallying cry had absolutely been heard.
Since then, every Wednesday (sometimes Thursday as weather dictates) small groups of pipers travel to various places in Almonte, Clayton, Carleton Place and Carp. In the beginning, with the feeling of Covid-19 desperation, our tunes rallied for bravery. Now, our tunes bring the community together.
As long as we are under emergency orders, the Covid Pipers will continue. Social isolation is extremely difficult, and if our tunes and appearance can bring cheer, we are determined to provide the relief. We are now mixing up our arrival times so crowds aren’t waiting, but we know that for some, our arrival is the highlight of the week.
If you happen to catch a performance of our Almonte Legion Pipe Band Covid Pipers, know that “Hopeful Souls and Grateful Hearts” live here too.