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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Calendonian Festival in West Roxbury draws 10,000 People on August 5, 1916


The Boston Caledonian Club's 63rd Annual Scottish Picnic took place at the West Roxbury Grove  on Saturday, August 5, 1916, attracting 10,000+ attendees from the region's Scottish and Irish communities.

According to The Boston Globe, 39 athletic and cultural events ranged from track and field and football (soccer) to Scottish dancing and Bagpipe competitions.

The Caledonian handicap road race of 13 ¼ miles started in front of the State House and finished at the Grove.  “The 16 starters were the crack local marathoners and Mayor James Michael Curley sent them off on their grind at 1:45,” wrote the Globe.

Mayor James M. Curley then traveled to the festival, where he addressed the crowd briefly and enjoyed the activities.  At one point, reported the Globe, Curley “was so pleased with the dance of one of the girls that he gave a personal prize.”

In addition to the sports and cultural competitions, three prizes were also awarded for “Best Dressed Highlander,” which was won by George A. Mitchell.

 According to writer Emily Ann Donaldson in her book, TheScottish Highland Games in America, the Boston Caledonian Club “sponsored Games for more than a century; the last one was held in September 1956 at Brookline Town Field.”

There is a tune called Boston Caledonian Club, which was published in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection in 1883.   

For information on today's Scottish celebrations in the USA, visit the Association of Scottish Games and Festivals.

Find more about Scots-Americans in New England, visit IrishMassachusetts.com.

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