EDINBURGH, Scotland -- As the second tattoo performance came to a close here the evening of Aug. 10, the Albany Marine Band has already performed for an estimated 270,000 spectators, with more performances continuing through Aug. 24.
In addition to the nightly capacity crowds of 10,000 at the tattoo with two performances each Saturday, an estimated 170,000 witnessed the cavalcade through the streets here Aug. 4.
The band has performed for dignitaries and royalty including the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James L. Jones, former Commandant, Gen. C.E. Mundy, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, the Honorable Mr. Stephen F. Brauer, and during her Golden Jublilee tattoo, Queen Elizabeth II.
The historic and majestic castle here, which is the oldest continuously-occupied castle in the United Kingdom, serves as the backdrop for the evening performances.
A huge parade ground, known as the Esplanade, is surrounded on three sides by large structure of temporary seating. The seating structures also provide the perfect platform for the massive lighting used throughout the show. The seating structure uses more than 10,000 meters of steel tubing and 20,000 nuts and bolts. More than 35 miles of cable is required. Add in the impressive fireworks and simulated cannon fire and it is no surprise that many participants and spectators say this is the greatest show in the world.
The band's performances have been well received and the crowds have been very appreciative.
"It's rewarding to not only hear the crowd response, but when our peers as military musicians want to emulate us, that's impressive, said Staff Sgt. Christian Flores, the enlisted conductor from Fresno, Calif. "Many of our equivalents are very interested in how we accomplish what we do to get the results that they see and hear. It's a great data exchange because we can learn a tremendous amount from them as well."
Entering the massive arena from the main doors of the castle and crossing the drawbridge is quite an experience, according to Sgt. Angel Knuckles, a clarinet player from Kissimmee, Fla.
"It's amazing at the height of the grandstands and the feeling when we come through the man-made smoke," Knuckles said. "The first couple of performances, I was stunned and thought this is the largest crowd I've performed for. Now I'm settling into still picking individuals and seeing what type response I can get from them. This is something I'll never forget."
The band will continue to perform at the tattoo here through Aug. 24. For additional information on the Albany Marine Band's tattoo performances visit www.ala.usmc.mil.