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Busy Saturday!



Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship

Saturday, April 23, 2016
Competition Noon-5:00 PM
Awards and Massed Piping Performance 6:00 PM

No other event in the United States will feature this many top-level pipe bands.

The Virginia International Tattoo will host the first annual Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship on Scope Plaza in Norfolk, Virginia. The competition, which coincides with the Tattoo performance weekend, will feature Grade 1 and Grade 2 pipe bands from around the world.

Bands will compete from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Scope Plaza, and awards will be presented at 6:00 PM followed by a massed piping performance.

Vendors will be on- site for all of your food and drink needs.

GRADE 1—Top Grade

Inveraray & District Pipe Band, United Kingdom

Peel Regional Police Pipe Band, Canada

Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band, United Kingdom

Toronto Police Pipe Band, Canada


Great Lakes Pipe Band, United States

MacMillan Pipe Band, United States

Midlothian Scottish Pipe Band, United States

New York Metro Pipe Band, United States

Read the press release.

Virginia International Tattoo Hullabaloo

April 23, 2016, 4:30 – 7:30

Scope Plaza, Norfolk

This is a happy hour like no other! Three hours of non-stop performances, craft beer and tasty treats. Expect performances by international military bands, dancers, drill teams and some of our favorite local dancers and musicians.
The Hullabaloo is a perfect opportunity to shake hands with an active duty soldier and get a selfie with an Australian highland dancer.
Get tattooed three hours prior to the Tattoo!

DrumLine Battle

April 23, 2016, 5:00 PM
Scope Plaza, Norfolk

DrumLine Battle is back! A favorite event of the 2015 Hullabaloo, DrumLine Battle showcases marching percussion ensembles of any instrumentation and any skill level year-round, spotlighting their unique talents and creativity in a high energy face-to-face competition. You might see a Canadian pipe band versus a German military band or a Swiss drum corps versus an American fife and drum band!


Check out 2015 matches!

The 20th Annual Virginia International Tattoo

A Time to Celebrate- 20 years of Spectacular Performances

A Time to Remember- 20 years of Service and Sacrifice

Saturday, April 23, 7:30pm 

The 2016 Virginia International Tattoo will celebrate the past 20 years with an extraordinary, once in a lifetime cast of performers and a recorded video tribute by General Colin Powell with script by legendary war correspondent Joe Galloway.

Included are the Swiss drum corps Top Secret, a Dutch Band on Bicycles, world champion pipers from the Highlands of Scotland, a massed choir of EPIC proportions, and the very finest performers the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have to offer.

The heartbeat of the Virginia International Tattoo is always its extraordinary international cast. Every year, the Tattoo includes military bands, drill teams, bagpipers, drummers, celtic dancers, choirs and more from around the globe to create a spectacular performance.

Each year the cast is different but the spirit of the cast remains the same. We invite groups from the U.S. and our key allies who epitomize talent, discipline, hard work and pride. Whether they are young civilian dancers from Canada or military pipers with combat experience from Scotland or our local Navy Band nicknamed “The Finest of the Fleet”, these performers and their passion for the traditions and cultures that they represent will inspire you.

2016 Cast


51 ACU Swan Regiment Drums and Pipes

In 2002, the 51 Army Cadet Unit was formed when the 2/28th Battalion and the 24th Anti-Tank Company Association members donated funds for the purchase of 21 drums and 21 Australian National Flags. Each flag was a representation of the 100 former members killed in action in World War II. When bagpipes were added to the mix in 2011, the Drum Corps transformed into the Drums and Pipes, as seen today.

Presbyterian Ladies’ College Pipe Band

The Presbyterian Ladies’ College was founded in 1915 in Perth, Western Australia, with a strong Scottish heritage. In 1934, the Black Watch tartan uniform was introduced. The Presbyterian Ladies’ College Pipe Band was formed in 1980 and today these two icons have become tangible reminders of the heritage.

OzScot Australia Highland Dancers

First established in 2000, the OzScot Australia Highland Dancers is a team of 24, ranging in ages 15-25. What is so interesting about this team is that the first time they work together is upon arrival at the international event they are performing. These dancers all have held or are currently holding titles and all hale from various parts of Australia, representing the Celtic community of Australia and promoting the country, highland dancing and friendship.


8 Wing Trenton Royal Canadian Air Force Pipes and Drums

The Canadian Forces Base 8 Wing Trenton Pipes and Drums represents the Canadian Armed Forces, specifically the Royal Canadian Air Force and is comprised of both current serving members, some being veterans of the Bosnia conflict and the war in Afghanistan, and civilian volunteers. The band carries with it all calibers of players from beginners to those who compete professionally and at the World Pipeband Championships in Grade 1.

Heeresmusikkorps Kassel, German Army Band Kassel

The Heeresmusikkorps Kassel was formed in 1956 and is the only military band of the Bundeswehr (Armed Forces of Germany) in the state of Hesse. This Army orchestra plays all over the globe, performing in both modern and traditional styles while “presenting musical culture in its most beautiful form.”

Jordanian Armed Forces Bagpipe Band

The Jordanian Armed Forces Band was established in 1921 with a core of 10 musicians. In the decades to come, the full band, seven musical groups including an orchestra, was formed includes more than 500 musicians today. Forty members of the Bagpipe Band are participating in this Tattoo.

Band of the Netherlands Mounted Arms Regiment

The Band of the Netherlands Mounted Regiment is one of the two professional orchestras within the Royal Netherlands Army and the only full-time professional military fanfare orchestra in the world. The band continues the traditions of the Bicycle Music Corps, sporting uniforms issued in 1914, playing on the period-correct bent instruments and even performing while riding bicycles.

Top Secret Drum Corps

Formed in 1990 by a group of enthusiastic, talented young drummers from the Swiss city of Basel, Top Secret’s energetic and unpredictable drumming performances incorporate the traditions of Basel, Scottish and American styles. Top Secret’s members are highly dedicated drummers with diverse backgrounds.

Inveraray and District Pipe Band

Stuart Liddell, one of the world’s top solo players, began coaching 5 younger pipers in 2003, calling itself the Inveraray Piping Project. The Inveraray and District Pipe Band were officially formed in 2005. Their first performance took 13th of 17 spots in the Novice Juvenile Division at Cowal Games with borrowed drums and its young members in uniforms of various colors. Fast forward to 2015 and the Inveraray and District Pipe Band has become a leading competitor in Grade 1 Division competitions.

Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band

The Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band is a Grade 1 pipe band from Fife, Scotland, and was established in September 2007. The band’s first competition at the Dunbar Highland Games in May 2008 saw them awarded first prize in Grade 1. In August of the same year the band made their first appearance at the World Pipe Band Championships and gained entry into the Grade 1 final, having achieved second place among fourteen bands in the morning qualifying round. Consistently a top 12 competitor, Police Scotland Fife is a band to watch in the 2016 competition season!

Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums

The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums are musical ambassadors for Colonial Williamsburg and perform there nearly 500 times a year. The Fifes and Drums are composed of boys and girls from the local community aged 14–18. They represent the Virginia State Garrison Regiment of 1778, whose field musicians were vital to commanders for marching the regiment in proper cadence and for beating daily ceremonies—Reveille, the Assembly, the Retreat, and the Tattoo.

Granby High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps

Established in 1972, Granby High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps is one of the largest NJROTC units in the Hampton Roads Area. They were recognized with The Navy League’s 2011-2012 Most Outstanding NJROTC unit in Area 5 and the #2 NJROTC in the nation and awarded the Naval Service Training Command Distinguished Unit award with academic honors.

Hampton Roads Police Color Guard

With a mission to protect and serve, members of the Chesapeake and Norfolk Police Departments proudly represent their cities in a display of integrity and honor.

Quantico Marine Corps Band

Established in 1918, the Quantico Marine Corps Band is one of the oldest professional musical ensembles in the Marine Corps. With an authorized strength of one officer and 50 enlisted Marines, the band has performed at many recognized civilian events; including the Super Bowl XLI Pregame Show, the 9/11 Memorials at Carnegie Hall and the Town Arts Theatre, Times Square, the Macy’s Thanksgiving and Columbus Day Parades in New York City, numerous appearances at The Virginia International Tattoo, and the Opening Ceremony for the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The band’s mission is to provide musical support that will encourage community relations, enhance troop morale, and promote the Marine Corps recruiting program through its demanding performance schedule. As well as musical support, the members of the band also fulfill their duties as Marine Riflemen. In support of the War in Iraq, 17 members of the band were attached to Task Force National Capitol Region and deployed conducting combat operations. These Marines returned to the band in June 2008.

Rhythm Project All Stars

The Rhythm Project is a world percussion ensemble dedicated to the nurturing of self-esteem through individual and cooperative achievement. Founded in 1996 by the Virginia Arts Festival, the Rhythm Project consists of four elementary and middle school groups along with the premiere high school ensemble, the All Stars, who will be performing at this year’s Tattoo.

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band

The TRADOC Marching Band supports larger reviews and parades for Headquarters TRADOC and Fort Eustis. The TRADOC Band’s mission is to provide music for Headquarters, TRADOC’s areas of interest by fostering Soldier and family morale, ‘Telling the Army Story’ to the civilian community, and supporting the strategic messages of the Commanding General, TRADOC. The Marching Band is featured at the Virginia International Tattoo in Norfolk, Virginia every other year, where it performs for over 30,000 in the largest military tattoo in North America. The Marching Band can also be seen at many area Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day Parades.

U.S. Coast Guard Silent Drill Team

Members of the Drill Team have double duties in the Honor Guard where their duties include Firing Party, Body Bearing Team and Colors. When not involved with their Honor Guard duties, the Drill Team is on the road, representing the Coast Guard in a wide variety of parades, competitions and celebrations.

Coast Guardsman who apply for a position on the Drill Team work closely with members of the present Drill Team to prepare for their first performance. Once a prospect has advanced in his or her initial training they are placed in an actual Drill Team performance. If the member successfully completes the performance with no flaws they are then accepted on the Drill Team where they continue to hone their skills.

In order for the team to become one cohesive unit they practice five days a week for a minimum of two hours each day.

U.S. Fleet Forces Band

Known as “The Finest of the Fleet”, the band is the musical representative for Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, VA. The band provides musical support for ships, military bases, foreign dignitaries and community events throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio River Valley areas of the U.S. and also regularly deploys to Central and South America.

U.S. Marine Corps FAST Co.

These highly trained Marines provide limited duration expeditionary antiterrorism and security forces in support of designated component and geographic combatant commanders in order to protect vital naval and national assets. Conduct other limited duration contingency operations as directed by the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command. Their Mission Essential Tasks are to provide forward deployed, expeditionary antiterrorism and security forces to support designated commanders, protect vital national assets, establish or augment security and to maintain permanent forces to provide security for strategic weapons at designated facilities. At the Tattoo, FAST Co. will provide a military skills demonstration that illustrates the fitness of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Virginia International Tattoo All-American Chorus

800 singers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Virginia International Tattoo. The Virginia International Tattoo All-American Chorus is the largest gathering of voices ever to be in the Tattoo! Dr. Craig D. Jessop, Professor of Music and founding Dean for the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University and former music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will conduct the chorus in performing a premiere piece created just for this event. Participating choruses include: Booker T. Washington High School Chorus, Churchland High School Chorus, Granby High School Chorus, Kempsville High School Chorus, Lake Taylor High School Chorus, Landstown High School Chorus, Maury High School Chorale, Norview High School Chorus, Old Dominion University Concert Choir, Visual & Performing Arts Academy at Salem High School, Virginia Children’s Chorus, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Wake & District Pipe Band

Based in the City of Raleigh, North Carolina, the Wake & District Public Safety Pipes and Drums (Wake & District) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to improve piping and drumming quality, culture and tradition in the region. Established in 2006, the program honors those who sacrifice their lives while serving others, standing for the motto “FOR OUR FALLEN”

Aruba, March 7 ~ Panama Canal Cruise

The description:

Friday, March 7

8:00 AM-7:00 PM

Dutch influence still lingers on this balmy Caribbean island, part of the former Netherlands Antilles until its independence in 1986. Aruba is a contrast: the island’s arid interior is dotted with cactus and windswept divi-divi trees while secluded coves and sandy beaches make up its coast. Aruba’s long and colorful heritage is reflected in its dialect. Called Papiamento, it is a tongue that combines elements of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, African and English.

Our Tour:


Semi-Submarine, Shipwreck & Island Drive

Your tour begins when you board the ferry “Stingray” at Palm Pier, on one of Aruba’s best beaches. After a 20-minute transfer, you’ll board the semi-sub. This is a surface vessel where you sit five feet below the waterline, the perfect way to discover the fascinating sea life that lives in these crystal clear Caribbean waters. The semi-sub will head towards the wreck of the “Antilla,” a German freighter that was sunk off the coast of Aruba during World War II. The tour is narrated and you will learn about how this 440-foot-long freighter met its watery end. You will also be able to view coral and the plentiful sea life, before returning to dry land. Here you will board your air-conditioned transportation for the short yet scenic journey to the California Lighthouse for views of Aruba’s windward coast.

The lighthouse is named after the U.S. ship which sunk in 1893, years before the lighthouse was built. Your captivating day then continues as you drive to the Casibari rock formations, where you will have time to browse the gift shop and view the amazing landscape formed by diorite boulders the size of small houses. Energetic guests may wish to climb the 80 rustic steps to the formation’s summit for stunning views of the island. Finally, it’s time to head to Aruba’s rugged north coast, to view the breath-taking Baby Natural Bridge, carved by the surf from solid coral and limestone. You will also be able to view the collapsed original Natural Bridge, and visit the gift shop here. Your route back to the ship takes you past the fascinating ruins of a 19th-century gold mill at Boca Mahos, and at the end of the tour, you will have the option to independently explore Aruba’s capital city Oranjestad. You will then be responsible for your return to the ship, which is a mere five minute walk away.

Our day:

Aruba, 8:00am–6:00pm

Weather Forecast:  Mostly Sunny High 82 / Low 79

Sunrise 6:52 am / Sunset 6:50 pm

From the Navigator:  Overnight Coral Princess maintained a southeasterly course and this morning we will make our final approach to Aruba.  A local pilot will assist in navigating the vessel to our berth in the capital city of Oranjestad.  This afternoon, with all the passengers onboard, we will let go our lines and maneuver out of the harbor, before altering course to starboard and setting westerly courses toward our next port of call, Cartagena.

When we woke up, we could see that we were approaching port.  I watched the process from the balcony, then we went down to deck 7 (Fiesta) to wait in line for disembarkation.

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Arriving at Aruba

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Of course, I checked in at Foursquare 🙂

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Container ships on the dock. In the distance, near the crane, is the Hooiberg volcano.

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The Freewinds often hosts local functions in the ports it frequents, such as jazz concerts and movie performances in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. These events are usually free but often support island charities through entrance fees or suggested donations.[21] Local artists are often showcased. It also caters to different international conferences and events. The ship’s leisure facilities include a restaurant, lounge, cabaret, swimming pool, movie theater and beauty salon.

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More containers

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Arriving at Aruba

Off the ship, we went through the terminal and met our bus.  Turned out, Rosie and Jim were on the same tour.

We rode in the bus for a while as our tour guide mentioned some Aruba facts and showed us some points of interest.  One of the most interesting and pertinent facts for me was that all restrooms on Aruba cost $.50 to use except the Natural Bridge, which was $1.00.  Yuck!

One of the first things we saw was a roundabout with a McDonalds, Wendy’s and other fast food.  I also saw a store called Rat Land which I hope means something in Dutch than in English.


Their license plates say “One Happy Island” but people are more happy when it rains.  They get very little rain there.  The island is very desert-like with lots of cacti, like we saw in Phoenix, AZ.

Our first stop was the California Light House.  There were some mini-Stonehenge rocks there.  We couldn’t go in.  This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891. It was formerly open to the public until a suicide occurred, which prompted authorities to restrict public access to the lighthouse.

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California Lighthouse

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At the California Lighthouse, looking at the sea

In Aruba, they make piles of rocks, similar to those we saw in Iceland.  In Aruba, tourists stack them up and make a wish on each rock they add to the pile.


Back on the bus, we went to DePalma beach.  That was down a path next to the Riu hotel.  All beaches here, like Barbados, are public.  The Riu had a “garden” of big rocks, surrounded by hedges and flowers, complete with a gardner tending these rocks.

Lots of activity there like wind surfing, parasailing, etc.  We walked past the little shops (they had Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins!) and got on a flat-topped ferry boat for our semi-submersible.

The semi-submersible didn’t submerge at all.  The only “submersing” it did was when we walked down the stairs to take our seats by the portholes.  In some of the photos below, you can see the bottom of our craft on the top of the water.

Even their own website says that they do not submerge at all:

The Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine is a state-of-the-art semi-submarine developed in Australia for use on the Great Barrier Reef. This unique vessel does not submerge. You step down into the hull of this cruising underwater observatory and sit in air-conditioned comfort just 5 feet below the water’s surface, viewing amazing Aruba sea life through large clear glass windows.

They should call in non-submersible instead.  There must not have been a reef or anything because all we did was circle the shipwreck, the Antilla.

I was a bit upset by all the divers’ bubbles coming from underneath us.  That couldn’t have been safe for them to be diving under a boat, whether it submerged or not.


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Ferry “Stingray”

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Shipwreck of the Antilla. You can see a diver’s fin in the top of this picture.

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Shipwreck of the Antilla. The jellyfish-looking thing in the upper right is air bubbles from a diver.

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Shipwreck of the Antilla.

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Shipwreck of the Antilla.

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Sergeant major fish

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More divers’ air bubbles

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The bottom of our boat at the top of this picture.

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The bottom of our boat at the top of this picture.

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From there, we drove to the Natural Bridge past Arashi Beach.

The Aruba Natural Bridge was a tourist attraction that was formed naturally out of coral limestone. The landmark collapsed on September 2, 2005.  We saw the newer Natural “Baby” Arch at the northeast shore of Aruba at the same site.

I thought I had a video of this arch but it might be on my other camera.  If/when I find it, I’ll put it here.  🙂

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Natural Bridge area

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New or baby Natural Bridge

Everything where we were seemed so dry, so there was a lot of cactus.  We also saw some brown doves (close relative of the North American Mourning Dove) and egrets (a type of heron).


The guide said that many of the beaches were made of coral.  They have a volcano on Aruba called Hooiberg, a Dutch word meaning Haystack.  It is actually a dormant volcano located close to the center of the island. The island of Aruba was formed as a result of volcanic activity.

Off to the Casibari rock formations.  Geologists are uncertain about their origins, but think that a collision of the teutonic plates forced the massive slabs to the surface. The limestone steps surrounding them are signs of the changing water levels of the Caribbean throughout the ages.

Aruba is made of lava quartz diorite and limestone.  There is also granite but it’s protected.


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Tom under one of the Casibari rock formations

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Casibari Rock Formations

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Casibari Rock Formations

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Casibari Rock Formations

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Arashi Beach

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A little lizard on the rocks.

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We didn’t get to see the gold mill or downtown Oranjestad but we were happy to head back to the ship.  I was surprised and pleased when the crew gave us cold water and cold towels.

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Oranjestad from our ship balcony.

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Back on board, we took a little nap, went to the library saw the singers and dancers do a show called Motor City, another excellent show.

After dinner in the buffet, we went to the Princess Theater to see Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

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