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Sunday, 7 April, 2002, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Pipers on form for Tartan day
Scottish Power Pipe Band leading the parade
The pipers head off on their parade through New York
Thousands of bagpipers have taken part in a massive parade through the centre of New York to mark Tartan Day.

The record-breaking parade, which attracted up to an estimated 10,000 drummers and pipers, was started by Sir Sean Connery, who was joined by New York mayor Mike Bloomberg.

The 007 star was dressed in his best kilt and carried a Scottish flag as he started the march amid a carnival atmosphere on the city's Sixth Avenue.

More than 1,200 Britons joined pipers from 26 other countries, including New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago and Malaysia.

Sir Sean Connery with, left, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg
Sir Sean Connery with Mayor Mike Bloomberg
Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell and leading Scottish National Party politicians also joined the event, which covered 72 city blocks from Sixth Avenue to Central Park.

The parade, which it is hoped will raise 1m for cancer charities, is believed to have broken the previous record of 8,500 pipers set in Edinburgh two years ago.

It was the culmination of week of events showcasing Scottish life and culture aimed at promoting the country in the US and encouraging tourists to visit.

Mr McConnell called it "a magnificent day" for Scots.

Difficult year

He said: "As the centrepiece of a successful week of events and promotions, this musical extravaganza will not be forgotten."

"I believe Tartan Day gives us a tremendous opportunity to raise Scotland's profile throughout the US, allowing us to build on historic links between Scotland and America and rebuild confidence following a difficult year," he added.

SNP leader John Swinney MSP said: "I am delighted and proud to be part of a parade that is not only showing off Scotland's culture and traditions but raising money for cancer charities too.

"Tartan Day is about selling Scotland abroad to one of the biggest nations in the world and 10,000 pipers marching through New York certainly raises Scotland's profile and helps put us on the world stage."

First Minister Jack McConnell with the pipers
Jack McConnell joins the parade

Euan Page, from tourist board VisitScotland, said: "It's a beautiful sunny day here and I've never seen anything like it in my life.

"It's been the most fantastic spectacle. And the friendship extended to us by the people of New York has been truly incredible."

Sir Sean Connery said: "I was so proud of my country today. At long last we are starting to make our mark in the world.

"And there is nowhere better to begin this process than here in the city of New York, the beating heart of America.

Founding fathers

"We must learn from America's sense of self-confidence, its healthy patriotism and its sense of 'can-do'."

Tartan Day was first formalised by the US Senate in 1998 to mark the Declaration of Arbroath on 6 April 1320, when a group of Scottish nobles swore independence from England.

Parts of the document are said to have been used by the Founding Fathers when the American colonies followed suit in 1776.

Supporters of Tartan Day hope it could eventually gain the same status and profile for Scotland as St Patrick's Day does for the Irish Republic.

See also:

06 Apr 02 | Scotland
Bush pays tribute to the Scots
04 Apr 02 | Scotland
McConnell to join Tartan Day
01 Apr 02 | Scotland
Town crier's tartan battle cry
26 Feb 02 | Scotland
Stars back Scots cultural showcase
05 Jul 01 | Scotland
Pipers to perform in Big Apple
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