- Associated Press - Monday, August 11, 2014

MISHAWAKA, Ind. (AP) - In 1954, the Sneddon family started a bagpipe band not knowing it would still be going strong 60 years later.

James Sneddon, 91, and his nephew, Tom Sneddon, 78, arrived for the 60th anniversary of the oldest Scottish band in Indiana their family founded in the mid-1950s. They were joined by family and friends of the Caledonia Kilty Pipe Band.

“My oldest brother Louis was a bag-piper in Scotland,” James Sneddon told the South Bend Tribune (https://bit.ly/1B8m660 ). “He wanted to teach people how to play the pipes, but he wanted to make sure they stayed with it.”

He said the band started with just close relatives, which only consisted of about 10 members.

“It was a friendly and fun band,” James Sneddon said. “We played in parades and at events in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. We even played at the Indianapolis 500.”

His nephew, Tom Sneddon, joined only a year after his family moved to Indiana from Scotland when he was 18 years old.

“We wanted to make the band bigger,” Tom Sneddon said. “At first, it was only family. We then opened it to anybody who wanted to join, but they had to stay with it.”

Tom Sneddon said his father came to the U.S. to find work, and later sent for the rest of his family. Louis Sneddon, his uncle and founder of the band, motivated him to join.

The band currently has about 20 members, said Rich Mullins, spokesperson and a current member of the band.

“For the anniversary, we had current members pay for the original members to be here,” Mullins said. “They will also play for them.”

Mullins said he had been looking forward to the anniversary party because it was so rare for newer members to meet the original members.

One of the newest members to the band is Joe Coman, 13, who is one of the youngest players.

“I didn’t even know the band went that far back,” said Coman, who marched with his snare drum for the first time with the band at a Fourth of July parade this year.

Mullins said the whole event was a success, and was happy at least two of the original members were able to make it to the event with their families.

“It’s really amazing to look back at the old photographs of the group and see how far the band has come,” Mullins said. “People are always so excited to come watch us play, and that’s what keeps us going strong decades later.”

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com

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