PORTLAND -- Nothing says Saint Patrick’s Day like the sound of Celtic music, and the Clackamas County Firefighters Pipe and Drum Corps is ready.
“This is our last practice before the holiday,” said Sean Campbell as he tuned his bagpipe. “It’s not like a guitar; you have to tune it every time you pick it up.”
The eight bagpipers and eight drummers will perform at 13 stops over two days.
The group formed just three years ago and half of the pipers had never picked up an instrument.
“We have to be ready in case one of our fellow firefighters doesn’t come home,” said firefighter Nick Brown. “We want to be able to honor our heroes.”
Thankfully the corps has not had to play at the funeral of a Clackamas firefighter killed in the line of duty. But they have honored colleagues taken by cancer.
“It is very powerful when we play 'Amazing Grace.' It is sad, but it is important to give the person the respect they deserve.”
Irish firefighters began honoring the fallen after immigrating to the U.S. and eventually the practice became a tradition at funerals no matter what the nationality of the firefighter.
The Clackamas County Firefighters Pipe and Drum Corps also performs in the community.
This weekend at the their third annual Pub Crawl they hope to raise as much as $4,000 to help cover costs during the year.
“It’s a great time,” said bagpiper Tyson Lowther. ”We’re often asked what’s under the kilt and I say, 'It’s tradition to wear nothing, so that’s just what I do!'”