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Spring 2024

President's Message

President's Message

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Earrach sona, a h-uile duine!*

Here in Wilmington, the Azalea Festival is underway and, believe it or not, the azaleas are at their peak for a change! I am often asked why we don't celebrate Tartan Day here, and there's a simple reason, in that the Azalea Festival always falls at the same time. It's such a big deal here that it doesn't allow much room for other celebrations. This year, we're sort of celebrating Tartan Day with our Spring Cèilidh on April 14. More on that, and Tartan Day, elsewhere in this newsletter.

​To recap the first quarter of the year, we had an incredibly successful Burns Supper, with a near-record attendance. Much fun was had by all, especially with a surprise demonstration from the Triangle Sword Guild. Many thanks to the volunteers who made it all happen, including Dick McGraw as Master of Ceremonies, Bob Livingstone for a masterful rendition of "Address to a Haggis," Jerry Dockery for leading the procession with his trusty sword, Kathleen McLeod for spear-heading the silent auction, Scott and Taylor Cromartie for handling registration, and all the volunteers who gave toasts and helped with setup. The Port City Pipes and Drums, and Galen and Lisa provided great music to round it all out. 

Other events during the winter included the 3rd Annual UNC-W Bagpipe Festival, with a good turnout of pipers for the workshops and for Bill Caudill's recital. As we have for many years, the Scottish Society of Wilmington participated in the 248th Commemoration of the ​Battle of Moore's Creek. This year, in addition to laying the wreath at the Loyalist Monument, feeding the volunteers and having an information table, we also sponsored golf carts to help get people around the site. Board member Sandi Dunlap spent the weekend cooking authentic 18th century food in the Loyalist camp as well. Special thanks to my cousin, Barbara Bush, for providing the delicious Brunswick Stew for the volunteer lunch.


A busy February wrapped up with Dan Johnson (UNC-W), Ruth Suehle (Scottish Cultural Organization of the Triangle) and I presenting "Exploring Scottish Culture Through Music and Dance" for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Finally, we marched to support our Celtic cousins in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Downtown Wilmington. We had a great group of nearly 30 folks, including representatives from paws4people with puppies! Over 400 flyers for the Port City Highland Games were handed out along the very well-attended parade route.

Speaking of the Port City Highland Games (June 1), it's not too late to sign up for the Spring Clinic if you've ever wanted to try your hand at some of the heavy athletics! Click here to register for the event on Saturday, April 13. More on the Games elsewhere in this issue. Once our own Games have wrapped up, we'll head up to Grandfather Mountain in July, and to Scotland County and Crystal Coast in October.  




*Happy Spring, Everyone!

Tartan Day

Tartan Day: Celebrating Scottish Heritage Around the World


Tartan Day, observed on April 6th each year, is a celebration of Scottish heritage and culture that has spread from its origins in North America to become an international phenomenon. With roots in the United States and Canada, Tartan Day now sees festivities and events taking place in various countries, including Scotland itself.



The concept of Tartan Day originated in North America during the late 20th century. The date, April 6th, was chosen to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, a significant historical document in Scotland's quest for independence. The Declaration of Arbroath is considered one of the most important documents in Scottish history, asserting Scotland's sovereignty and right to self-determination.

United States

In the United States, Tartan Day has been officially recognized since 1998 when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating April 6th as National Tartan Day. The resolution aimed to honor the contributions of Scottish Americans to the nation's heritage and culture. Tartan Day celebrations in the U.S. typically include parades, Highland games, concerts, and other events highlighting Scottish music, dance, food, and traditions. Cities with large Scottish-American populations, such as New York, Boston, and Chicago, often host some of the most elaborate festivities. The image to the left is a copy of H.R. 41, the U.S. House of Representatives Resolution establishing Tartan Day, which was presented to the SSOW by Congressman Mike McIntyre (R-NC), one of the primary sponsors and co-founder of the Friends of Scotland Caucus in the House. 


In Canada, Tartan Day has been celebrated since the late 1980s, particularly in provinces with significant Scottish heritage, such as Nova Scotia and Ontario. Canadian Tartan Day events mirror those in the United States, featuring parades, cultural festivals, and gatherings of Scottish clans and societies. The Canadian government officially recognized Tartan Day in 2010.

Scotland and Worldwide

While Tartan Day originated outside of Scotland, the country itself has embraced the celebration, with events taking place across the nation. In Scotland, Tartan Day is an opportunity to showcase Scottish culture, history, and traditions to both locals and visitors. Festivities may include cèilidhs (traditional Scottish dances), pipe band performances, clan gatherings, and exhibitions on Scottish history and heritage.

Beyond North America and Scotland, Tartan Day has gained traction in other parts of the world with significant Scottish diaspora communities, such as Australia and New Zealand. These countries also host Tartan Day events to celebrate their Scottish heritage and strengthen ties with Scotland.

Legacy and Significance

Tartan Day serves as a reminder of the enduring impact of Scottish culture and heritage on communities around the world. It provides an opportunity for people of Scottish descent to connect with their roots, while also offering a platform for sharing Scottish traditions with people of all backgrounds. Tartan Day celebrations promote cultural exchange, foster a sense of pride in Scottish identity, and contribute to the preservation and promotion of Scottish heritage for future generations. As Tartan Day continues to grow in popularity and reach, its legacy as a global celebration of Scottish culture remains strong.

Spring Cèilidh

Spring Cèilidh - April 14


Once again we'll gather at Flying Machine Brewery for our Spring Cèilidh! Flying Machine is a sponsor of the Port City Highland Games and will be producing another beer brewed just for our Games! Music will be provided by The Blarney Brogues, and there will be haggis for sampling. There will also be a food truck (TBD) on site.

Who: Everybody!

What: A Scottish cèilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is a traditional social gathering or dance event that originated in Scotland (and Ireland). Cèilidhs are known for their lively and inclusive atmosphere, featuring traditional Celtic music, dancing, and socializing.

When: Sunday, April 14, 3 - 6 pm

Where: Flying Machine Brewing Company, 3130 Randall Parkway, Wilmington, NC (additional parking is available in the Burnt Mill Business Park across Randall Parkway)

Why: To socialize and introduce people to the SSOW

How: Brought to you by YOUR support of the SSOW!

Port City Games

3rd Annual Port City Highland Games

Join us for the Third Annual Highland Games in the Lower Cape Fear! Benefiting the paw4vets foundation, the Games will feature professional and amateur athletes, clan tents, vendors, food trucks, music, Highland dancing, sheep dog demonstrations, car show, and more! We are pleased to announce that The Scottish Cottage will be joining us this year as our exclusive Scottish food vendor. Also, Jeff Gordon Chevrolet is our Union of Crowns (Presenting) Sponsor again this year.

New additions this year (besides Scottish Cottage) include the Triangle Sword Guild, who will be demonstrating various types of sword combat and giving hands-on opportunities to adults and kids alike to learn a little sword-fighting. We also hope to be able to organize an opportunity for kids to get on the athletic field and try their hands at some of the events (volunteers needed!). 

Speaking of volunteers, we will be offering reduced admission tickets to anyone willing to sign up for a 2- or 3-hour volunteer shift during the day of, or for volunteering to help with event setup on Thursday and Friday. More information on this will be available soon. 

Sponsorship opportunities and clan tent spaces are still available. Click on the button to the left to find out more. Advanced tickets are on sale now as well!

Highland Dancing

Why Learn Highland Dancing? 

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West Jefferson, NC Class

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West Jefferson, NC Class


Erin Dunlap

By Sandi Dunlap, SSOW Board Member


Scottish Highland Dancing is a celebration of Scottish culture and spirit combining strength, agility, precision, music, and costume. Formerly only danced by men, Highland dancing has evolved  and is a sport/performance event where girls and boys, women and men can compete or perform on an equal footing. 

Highland dancing is an excellent aerobic activity. It improves the cardiovascular system, increasing stamina. Dance also improves posture and overall muscle tone as well as bone density.

Cross-lateral integration is exclusively used to perform the dance movements found in Highland dances. This type of integration helps develop the left-right neural pathways that allow simultaneous use of both sides of the body in a controlled, coordinated manner.

Aside from the physical benefits, other benefits of dance include goal setting, social interaction and friendships,  development of a work ethic, family time, and travel if a dancer likes to compete at various Highland games.

How old does a child need to be to begin Highland dance? 

Many children begin around age 4, when they can balance and can hop from side to side but children of any age (including adults) can start lessons.

Is there instruction in the Wilmington area? 

Margaret Morrison-Howard teaches Highland Dance in Dunedin, FL. She offers virtual classes via Zoom with periodic visits from her for in-person, hands-on instruction and performances. She is currently teaching a virtual class with students from West Jefferson, NC.

Her certifications include the British Association of Teachers of Dance, Fellow in Highland Dance and Scottish National Dance; certified adjudicator with Royal Scottish Board of Highland Dance. She has been a certified instructor for 43 years, a certified judge for 40 years. Her judging assignments have included the Highland Dance world championship in Dunoon, Scotland.


Contact information:

Margaret Morrison-Howard


Margaret Morrison Highland Dancers


(727) 421-8839


Facebook -


Flowers of the Forest


Warren Elliott


Colleen Szabo Payne

Warren Elliott, former SSOW President (2005-07), passed away on January 31, 2024. Warren was a beloved member of the SSOW community, and a wonderful musician. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of his company.

New SSOW members Dr. Paula Szabo-DeSilva and Dr. Hema DeSilva sadly reported that Paula's daughter, Colleen Aimee Cecile Szabo Payne passed away suddenly on March 3. Please keep the DeSilvas in your thoughts as they cope with this loss. Colleen leaves behind an 8-year-old daughter, among other survivors. More information can be found here.

If you have a submission for Flowers, please send a message to

Sister Cities of Wilmington

The Sister Cities Association of Wilmington, Inc. is a private, non-profit, membership-based organization that provides community involvement in the City of Wilmington’s sister city relationships.  The Association works closely with  the City of Wilmington Sister City Commission in its efforts to develop international educational, arts, cultural, and economic exchanges.  

The Scottish Society of Wilmington has had a representative member for a number of years and has been working on establishing a "Sister City" in Scotland. We thank Otis White for his many years of service in this capacity as he steps away from that role. 


Please click the button below to find out more about the organization

If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email to


Shop SSOW Gear!

Connect to our partners at Queensboro to order your SSOW-branded shirts, jackets, hats, etc.

10% of the proceeds of your purchase goes to fund SSOW activities


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Kids Corner

Kids Corner

Brought to us by the Scottish Outreach Foundation, a non-profit charity dedicated to preserving Scottish heritage and culture through performing arts and various educational programs.

Did you know that April 9th is National Unicorn Day in Scotland? The unicorn is the national symbol of Scotland! Click the picture below for a link to create your very own Scottish Unicorn Horn headband!

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