By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff
The month of March is synonymous with March Madness, the first day of spring and — for this year at least — a succession of powerful winter nor’easters. Add to that March mix the Port Authority Police Department’s Pipes and Drums band, whose distinctive sound is being heard at numerous events across the region this month.
The band performed live on March 16 on NBC’s Today Show as part of its St. Patrick’s Day segment, and also entertained customers at Stewart International Airport and at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. And they marched down Fifth Avenue during the St. Patrick’s Day parade and performed at an event in Pearl River, N.Y.
Video by Media Relations Staff Rudy King
Formed in 1979, the band made its public debut in 1981, welcoming home the Americans who had been held hostage during the Iran hostage crisis. Since then, the band, which today numbers 25 members, has grown to include civilian employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as members of neighboring outside police and emergency service agencies.
“It’s an honor to be part of this pipe band, to be able to represent the men and women of this department and lead them up Fifth Avenue on St Patrick’s Day,” said Port Authority Police Officer Brian Ahern, who also serves as the band’s Pipe Major. “There is a long history between bagpipe bands and police departments. This band’s job is to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this department and to honor their memories.”
During its colorful history, the band has starred in many high-profile events besides the Iranian hostage welcome. They include:
- Being the host pipe band of National Police Week in 2011
- Playing for Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Ground Zero in 2008
- Greeting the 2011 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants at Newark Liberty International Airport
- Performing at the opening ceremonies of 2017 President’s Cup Golf Tournament
- Performing at the funeral of Medal of Honor Recipient Nicholas Oresko in 2013
- Annual appearances at Operation Santa for special needs children at JFK Airport every December
- Annual performances at commemoration services for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and September 11 attacks
“Our most important job is playing for those brothers and sisters that have left us too soon while a member of this department, which sadly, we have done every year,” said Port Authority Police Officer Matt Westfield, who serves as the band’s manager.