Pipe bands delighted with Octagon support

John McGlashan College Pipe Band members (from left) Sam Darling (14), Joe Corbett (15), Campbell Ellis (16), William Archer (14) and Lochie Chittock (14) prepare to pipe up a storm at the Octagonal Day Contest in Dunedin today. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
John McGlashan College Pipe Band members (from left) Sam Darling (14), Joe Corbett (15), Campbell Ellis (16), William Archer (14) and Lochie Chittock (14) prepare to pipe up a storm at the Octagonal Day Contest in Dunedin today. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Pipe bands in Otago and Southland have avoided ending their long run of contests in the Octagon on a sour note, by consulting businesses in the CBD and gaining overwhelming support for the competition to continue.

Bands attended last year's contests believing they would be the last to be held in the Octagon because there had been opposition to the events from retailers.

Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands Association Otago Centre president Brian Coutts said central business owners had complained about band members standing in their doorways ''warming up'', and the associated street closures.

However, businesses in and near the Octagon were canvassed earlier this year and after receiving overwhelming support, the bands had been allowed to return to their venue of choice, he said.

All participants had been reminded to respect requests from retailers to avoid blocking doorways and accessways.

As a result, up to 450 musicians from 15 pipe bands will do battle in the Octagon today in the annual Octagonal Day Contest, and tomorrow in the Otago Southland Provincial Pipe Band Contest.

''We're delighted that the contests are going to be in the Octagon again,'' Mr Coutts said.

''A long time ago, we found the people didn't want to go to pipe band contests any more, so we decided to take the contests to the people.

''The Octagon is ideal for that,'' Mr Coutts said yesterday.

''It has food, drink and places to sit and watch.''

Dunedin City Council community events co-ordinator Marilyn Anderson said the Octagonal Day was expected to be a highlight for passengers in the city from two cruise ships stopping over today.

A mass street march would be held at 4.30pm, from the Octagon carriageway to the Moray Pl intersection with George St, she said.

Tomorrow will begin with a street march competition from 9am around St Andrew and Filleul Sts.

The streets encompassed by Moray Pl would be closed to traffic during the competitions, she said.

-john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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