The Origins of New York's Tartan Day

After the U.S. Senate officially recognized Tartan Day in 1998, Alan Bain, Chairman of the American Scottish Foundation, was tasked by The Scottish Coalition USA to organize a Tartan Day celebration for New York City and in 1998 the first Tartan Day Parade, consisting of two pipe bands and a small but spirited group of Scottish Americans, including Grand Marshal, Cliff Robertson, walked on a sidewalk from the British Consulate to the United Nations.

The first permitted parade was in 1999 in Central Park. Since then it has flourished to include many bands and thousands of participants, including clan members and individual marchers.


Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band, Scotland, marching past the
Statue of Robert Burns in Central Park - 2001


In 2002, as part of the Tartan Day celebrations the Parade was brought to 6th Avenue for the first time. This Parade attracted a record number of pipe bands from all over the World and was led by Sir Sean Connery and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomes Parade Grand Marshall,
Sir Sean Connery to the Tartan Day Parade - 2002



With the New York Tartan Day Parade growing the Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York, 1756, New York Caledonian Club, 1856, and The American-Scottish Foundation®, 1956. came together to form the The New York Tartan Day Committee. Since 2002 the Committee has grown to include members from Clan Campbell.

The NYTDC, which has 501(c)3 status, is charged with maintaining and perpetuating the New York Tartan Day Parade and co-ordinating the events that complement it.

New York Tartan Day Parade Past Parade Grand Marshals
1998 - Cliff Robertson - Academy Award-winning actor
2002 - Sir Sean Connery - Academy Award-winning actor
2005 - Randall Wallace - Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “Braveheart”
2006 - Brigadier Melville Jameson - Producer, Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (1994-2006)
2007 - Rt.Hon. George Reid – Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament (2003-2007)
2008 - Lawrence Tynes – Kicker for the New York Giants, winners of Super Bowl XVII
2009 - Alan Cumming, OBE – Tony Award-winning actor
2010 - Rt.Hon. Alex Fergusson - Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament (2007-current)
2011 - Bob Winter - Lord Provost of Glasgow
2012 - Brian Cox - actor
2013 - Kevin McKidd, actor
2014 - Howie Nicholsby, kilt designer, 21st Century Kilts
2015 - Co-Grand Marshal Tricia Marwick, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament (2011-2016) and Graham McTavish, actor
2016 - Sam Heughan, actor

Numerous groups and societies throughout Canada and America have taken the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (April 6, 1320) as their national date to celebrate their Scottish roots.

Tartan Day is now celebrated throughout the United States with the largest celebration being the New York Tartan Day Parade.

The adoption by the US Senate would not have occured without The Scottish Coalition taking up the mantle in the United States to see Tartan Day recognized as it is today.

TSC USA learnt in 1996 of the actions taken on December 19, 1991 by the Ontario Legislature who passed a resolution proclaiming April 6 as Tartan Day.

TSC USA led the American initiative which led on March 20, 1998, to Senate Resolution 155 (S. Res.155), proposed by US Senate Republican majority leader, Trent Lott, was passed unanimously. This was followed by companion bill House Resolution 41 which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 9, 2005 - and by Presidential Proclamation on April 4, 2008.

The National Tartan Day Resolution:

Whereas April 6 has a special significance for all Americans, and especially those Americans of Scottish descent, because the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, was signed on April 6, 1320 and the American Declaration of Independence was modeled on that inspirational document; Whereas this resolution honors the major role that Scottish Americans played in the founding of this Nation, such as the fact that almost half of the signers of the Declaration of independence were of Scottish descent, the Governors in 9 of the original 13 States were of Scottish ancestry, Scottish Americans successfully helped shape this country in its formative years and guide this Nation through its most troubled times; Whereas this resolution recognizes the monumental achievements and invaluable contributions made by Scottish Americans that have led to America's preeminence in the fields of science, technology, medicine, government, politics, economics, architecture, literature, media, and visual and performing arts; Whereas this resolution commends the more than 200 organizations throughout the United States that honor Scottish heritage, tradition, and culture, representing the hundreds of thousands of Americans of Scottish descent, residing in every State, who already have made the observance of Tartan Day on April 6 a success; Whereas these numerous individuals, clans, societies, clubs, and fraternal organizations do not let the great contributions of the Scottish people go unnoticed: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate designates April 6 of each year as "National Tartan Day".



The Wallace Award®

The American-Scottish Foundation® introduced the Wallace Award® in 1970. It was awarded annually until 1988. After a hiatus the Foundation revived the Wallace Award® in 2000. The recipient was Senator Trent Lott, then Republican Senate Majority Leader. Senator Lott received the Award in recognition of his sponsorship of Senate Resolution 155 that adopted April 6, in perpetuity, as National Tartan Day.... Read more >>

The Declaration of Arbroath

Arbroath Abbey hosted the most significant event in Scottish history. On 6 April 1320 the Scottish Declaration of Independence was signed by the assembled Scottish nobility in Arbroath Abbey. The Declaration was addressed to the Pope who had given his support to Edward II and excommunicated Robert the Bruce. The nobles had to intervene in the dispute between the Bruce and the Pope. The Declaration explained how the Bruce had rescued the country from a dreadful situation and for this they would support him in all things. Read a translation of the Declaration >>



About National Tartan Day: April 6

(from www.nationaltartanday.org)


Americans of Scottish descent have played a vibrant and influential role in the development of this country. However not until 1997 was this influence recognized by a single-year U.S. Senate Resolution that appeared in the Congressional Record of April 7, 1997. In 1998, National Tartan Day of April 6 was officially recognized on a permanent basis when the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 155 recognizing April 6th as National Tartan Day. This was followed by companion bill House Resolution 41 which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 9, 2005. The passage of this bill was due to the work of the National Capital Tartan Committee, Inc. and president James Morrison.

The date of April 6 commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, which asserted Scotland's sovereignty over English territorial claims, and which was an influence on the American Declaration of Independence.

Canada has been celebrating "National Tartan Day" since 1993. The idea and motivation for creating a similar American holiday was provided by the Scottish Coalition, a group of national Scottish-American cultural organizations.