COVID-19 has once again foiled efforts to bring hundreds of performers together for the Okanagan Military Tattoo.
The event, which typically fills Kal Tire Place each summer, has been cancelled for the second straight year as provincial restrictions to curb transmission of the virus continues to limit group activities.
Norm Crerar, president of the Okanagan Military Tattoo Society, said the decision was “devastating” but necessary, given that local pipe bands haven’t yet been able to gather in a circle to practice.
“We’ve gotten to the point now where none of the pipe bands or the military bands have been able to get together and play for the last year and a half, and the restrictions haven’t lifted yet so nobody has enough time to play together,” Crerar said.
“There was nothing that was in favour of us doing this (event) because even with that, the people, they have to be comfortable, and I think it’s going to take another year.”
There have been talks since late last year of holding the popular event on the Armstrong fairgrounds, which Crerar said has been considered since the Tattoo was first held in 2014.
But now, Crerar says organizers have their sights set on 2022 and are looking at the start of the coming school year in September as a hopeful return to normal routines.
“Everybody is looking forward to getting out and giving ‘er next year.”
This year was to be the year the Black Watch Cadet Force made its way from Scotland to perform at the Tattoo. Made up of brass and reed instruments and a pipe band contingent has been fundraising for the trip for two years.
“They said they need more time, so it fits in perfectly for 2022,” Crerar said.
In June 2022, Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum Jubilee celebration in England, marking her 70 years on the throne. It’s a milestone that will be celebrated throughout the Commonwealth and will colour the festivities at the next tattoo. Pipe and military bands from Calgary and Vancouver are also on the invite list for next year’s event.
This fall, with provincial and federal grants received for the now-cancelled tattoo, Crerar says the society will support pipe bands in Summerland, Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops and the Shuswap, organizing public appearances that these bands rely on for fundraising.
“They haven’t been able to raise any money for the last year and a half basically. They all need places to practice, and they have to pay for that.”
Crerar said the society will aim to firm up plans for the 2022 Tattoo in September or early October.
He also hinted that the 2023 event will have a law enforcement theme, as it coincides with the RCMP’s 150th anniversary.