By Paul Tennant
NORTH ANDOVER — Those who attended the first day of the Fourth of July Festival on Tuesday got a surprise.
The bagpipes and snare drums of the Campbell Highlanders reverberated across the Common in Old North Andover Center, possibly causing some folks to wonder if the Redcoats were attempting to make a comeback on American soil.
The Highlanders, based in Andover, were a last-minute entry. Graham Rowe, a firefighter who is a member of the group, said he thought it would be nice to bring a Scottish flair to the festival.
He contacted Joan Heafey, co-chairwoman of the Festival Committee, and the Highlanders were able to make an appearance.
"It gets you going," Rowe said of the sound of the pipes. Rowe ordinarily would have been attired in a kilt and playing his bagpipes along with the other Highlanders, but he had already committed to help the Fire Department sell hot dogs and hamburgers at the festival.
Rowe said the Highlanders played for the 100th anniversary of the Central Fire Station in 2009 as well as for the Fire Department's commemorations of 9/11.
Jeffrey Coco, co-chairman of the Festival Committee, estimated the event may have drawn as many as 1,500 people. Besides the bagpipes and DJ Russ McQueen, those who attended the festival also enjoyed carnival-style games as well as hay and pony rides.
There was lots of food, too, of course.
William Pickles of Haverhill took people of all ages for hay rides, pulling a cart with a 1952 International tractor he restored. The red tractor shined and looked like it had just come from the show room.
"Yeah!" screamed a group of children when asked if they were having fun.
The festival's first night ended with the fireworks show, in accordance with tradition. Those who were still on the Common could get a good view of the pyrotechnics by staying where they were.
Others headed for Route 125, North Andover High School or other points where they could be closer to the fireworks, which were launched from North Andover Middle School.
After Atlas Pyrotechnics blasted the sky with the finale, the spectators applauded and headed for home. Police reported there were no behavioral problems at the festival or during the fireworks.
• • •
Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.