DUNEDIN — Americans rooting for their hometown Olympians who are competing this summer overseas can add another team to their rosters.
The City of Dunedin Pipe Band shoved off Wednesday for Glasgow, Scotland, where about 30 of the local musicians will vie for top honors in the World Pipe Band Championships on Aug. 11.
And the competition is stiff.
The Dunedin drummers and bagpipers are battling in the 70th annual contest against an estimated 8,000 other musicians from 16 nations. The event is expected to draw 40,000 spectators.
"It's like the gymnastics of the Olympics. So you do your best and hope for a great score," said Iain Donaldson, pipe major of Dunedin's pipe band and director of the city's middle school and high school piping and drumming programs.
The competition is the team's first since the February death of Sandy Keith, Dunedin's longtime band director who led the group to the world competition multiple times over his 30-year tenure. In 1998, the pipe band placed second in its division.
Donaldson said this year's performance marks "a new chapter" for the band, which includes four out-of-state members who will be traveling with the group.
They are "well prepared," he added, noting that the band has been practicing three days a week since January, plus meeting for weekend rehearsal once a month.
He said each band member, some of whom will be accompanied by friends or family, paid their own way, which cost $1,500 for airfare alone.
In addition to the main competition, the group will perform several small concerts during the weeklong Piping Live! Glasglow International Piping Festival leading up to it. That includes a gig as the opening act for the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, the reigning world champions, during the Pipes of Peace Concert on Aug. 9, Donaldson said.
Throughout the trip, the Dunedin band will update its Facebook page, which can be accessed through cityofdunedinpipeband.com.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected], (727) 445-4153 or on Twitter @KeyonnaSummers. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.