By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
Faces reddening and fingers tapping, a bagpipe band celebrated St. Patrick's Day early at the Hays Public Library on Sunday.
The City of McPherson Pipe Band's Irish and Scottish tunes pierced the building's routine silence. Dressed in the traditional Scottish kilts and garb, the six men and 12-year-old girl entertained more than 50 people during their second annual performance at the library.
The band played such favorites as "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "Danny Boy." The band has approximately 25 members.
Ty Kaufman, McPherson, said he is the last remaining founder of the band that began in 1981. Between each song he discussed the outfits, musical instruments and Scottish history.
There is no difference between Irish and Scottish bagpipes, and performers from the land of Guinness beer have won the global bagpipe contest several times.
"The Irish play the same kind of music that the Scots play, and right now they're playing it better," he said.
The kilt started as a one-piece garment for men to sleep in before it evolved into normal clothing, and the different color designs became associated with clans. The traditional shoes resemble wing tips and have holes so they could drain water, and the laces tie around the legs to avoid getting wet, he said.
One famous bagpiper, Bill Millin, played his music during the Normandy Beach landing. The performer survived the experience but died in 2010.
Judy Robbins, an attendee from Gorham, said she brought her 17-month-old son, Sasha, and 13-year-old daughter, Lori. The band exposed her children to a new culture.
"I think they're really neat. I think it's a treat that they came to Hays," Robbins said. "We didn't catch them last year; I love bagpipe music."
Kaci Norman, library assistant, said the show's large turnout matched last year's attendance. The program is timely with St. Patrick's Day, and it introduces something new to participants.
"I think it offers the community some cultural diversity," Norman said. "It brings in some new experiences for them that they wouldn't of had before."