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The Dart: Bagpipe player enjoys St. Patrick’s Day

NATCHEZ — Several locals were joining the sea of green marchers for the annual Krewe of Killarney St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday evening, but the festivities would not have been the same without the loud hum of music close by.

When The Dart landed in the heart of downtown Natchez on Main Street on Saturday, Darrin Parkhill and his wife, Lou, stood just outside St. Mary’s Basilica with their niece and two great-nephews, all of them dressed for the occasion.

Lou wore striking green hair and green and black striped stockings. However, her husband drew a lot of the attention from the crowd with his traditional bagpipe music.

Darrin, a former Canadian, said he has been piping at the Krewe of Killarney parade for the past seven years since moving to Natchez.

Darrin said he met his American bride online and moved to Natchez to be with her after six months of long-distance dating.

“I asked her to move up to Canada with me, but she said no,” Darrin said.

Well accustomed to traveling, Darrin had no qualms about relocating to the United States, Lou said.

“He actually played his bagpipes for Queen Elizabeth II,” Lou said.

“And some of the other royal families,” Darrin interjected, nonchalantly. “When the royal families came through, I was part of their honor guard as well.”

Darrin said he began playing the bagpipes when he was 8 years old, some 30 years ago.

“My dad was in the military and was posted in Germany,” Darrin said. “From Germany, we traveled all over Europe on the weekends and holidays. One holiday we were in Scotland, and I saw someone using a bagpipe on the street. I said I wanted to do that, too, and so here I am.”

Darrin said he is not too far from home to have a bagpiping profession and has received several requests for his talents at home in Natchez, whether for celebrations, memorial services or even special occasions such as St. Patrick’s Day.

“Bagpiping is growing in popularity in the United States — in Florida, Texas and Louisiana,” Darrin said. “Louisiana has even got highland games at the end of this month, and I’m going to compete.”

Darrin said he enjoyed taking a break from the more serious events to play light-heartedly as the retiring Sen. Bob Dearing paraded down Main Street on Saturday evening, clad in green as the honorary St. Patrick.

“(Dearing) is a good friend of mine,” Darrin said. “I’ve known him for as long as I’ve been in Natchez.”

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