Page last updated at 00:10 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 01:10 UK

Cumming leads Tartan Day parade

Culture Minister Mike Russell (left) and Alan Cumming at the parade - copyright Debra L Rothenberg/PA Wire (Feature Photo Service)
Other events were held across the US

The annual Scotland Week celebration in North America kicked off with Hollywood star Alan Cumming leading a parade through New York City.

The grand marshal of the Tartan Day procession was joined by students from his former drama school, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

People lined the streets as the parade made its way along Sixth Avenue.

Cumming, who starred in the X-Men 2 movie, said he had been honoured to represent Scotland as grand marshal.

"As an artist so much of what defines you and makes you unique is where you are from and the environment in which you learned your craft," the actor said.

"For me, being Scottish and training at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama both define me and make me incredibly proud."

The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) recently appointed former student Cumming as the president of its new American Foundation.

'Shining example'

In that role the actor will work with the RSAMD to launch an appeal for a scholarship fund in the US.

"The older I get, and the more I look at Scotland from afar, I realise how much being Scottish defines me as an artist and as a human being, and how I feel more and more connected to it," Cumming added.

Scottish Culture Minister Mike Russell also took part in the parade, which was one of several events intended to celebrate the Scottish influence on North American society.

He described Cumming as a "shining example of Scottish talent".

"I was honoured to be asked by the National New York Tartan Day Committee to represent the Scottish Government and lead the celebrations alongside the presiding officer and renowned actor and grand marshal Alan Cumming.

"The message today was one of homecoming, as we invited everyone here to visit Scotland and continue the celebrations through 2009."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is leading the Scottish Government delegation in North America during Scotland Week, joined by Mr Russell and Tourism Minister Jim Mather.

Other events were also held on Saturday in North American cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and Toronto.

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