Virginia International Tattoo at the Scope Arena in Norfolk

Virginia International Tattoo at the Scope Arena in Norfolk

The Virginia International Tattoo is set for the Scope Arena in Norfolk in May. The Virginia Arts Festival notes that the Virginia International Tattoo has been designated one of the “Top Internationally Known Events” and “Top 100 Events in North America” by the American Bus Association. This spectacular display of military and police bands and folk dancers more than 850 performers from seven nations is sure to fill the Scope with the awesome sounds and sights of “Patriotism, Power and Precision.” The United States Marine Corps describes the Virginia International Tattoo as a “nationally and internationally recognized world class event. It is both a patriotic and artistic event that brings together the local military community, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) dignitaries, international military and civilian performers, and residents of Hampton Roads.”

This year the Quantico Marine Band will participate. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard will take part in the Tattoo.

The Marine Corps projects that approximately 30,000 people will attend the Virginia International Tattoo over its three day run. The Corps states that the Tattoo “has become a keystone event of the International Azalea Festival,” which has been held for over 50 years.

According to the Library of Congress, The Norfolk International Azalea Festival is designed as a gala tribute to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The festival began in 1954. The first hosts were the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the City of Norfolk. Local citizens were inspired to organize the festival when NATO’s Allied Command Atlantic was established in Norfolk.

Former Senator John Warner, Virginia, stated one purpose of the Norfolk International Azalea Festival was “to create new friendships, to provide a basis for cultural exchange, to focus greater public awareness on the military’s role in maintaining world peace and ensuring safe trade routes, and to inspire cultural and scientific development.”

Held when the azaleas in Norfolk are, indeed, in full bloom, the festival offers a week long schedule of events, including a Parade of Nations and Coronation of the Festival Queen. The queen is chosen from the NATO member state designated Most Honored Nation for that year. The 2000 Azalea Festival Queen, for example, represented Iceland.

The Virginia International Tattoo carries on the long tradition of military musical processions, involving trumpets, drums and pipes, and precision military drills. Probably the most famous Tattoo held outside the United States is the internationally sensational Edinburgh Military Tattoo. That performance is held at the “defiant fortress,” the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, which, according to the Edinburgh Tattoo website, is “proudly conspicuous yet strangely secretive, menacing but still homely and human.”

The first overseas participants in the Edinburgh Tattoo, in 1952, were the 1st Canadian Highland Pipe Band (Canada), La Garde Republicaine a Cheval (France), and Netherlands Royal Military Band (Netherlands).

Overseas participants in the Virginia International Tattoo this year will include The Scotch College, Perth, Pipes and Drums (Australia), The Gym Wheel Team (Germany), Pipes Drums of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, National Defense Band of the Czech Republic, Nalmes State Academic Ensemble of Folk Dance (Russia) and The Band of His Majesty the King’s Guard (Norway).

According to Wikipedia, The Band of His Majesty the King’s Guard (Hans Majestet Kongens Garde) has an official mascot that resides at the Edinburgh Zoo. The mascot is a King Penguin named Nils Olav II. Nils Olav is the first penguin to serve in the Norwegian army. Olav was knighted by order of Norway’s King Harald V. Reuters.

The Virginia International Tattoo will be held at the Scope Arena in Norfolk on May 1, 2, 3, 2009. The Norfolk Scope is located at 215 St. Paul’s Boulevard (757 664 6464). Marines.

“Local Legacies: The Norfolk International Azalea Festival Honors NATO,” The Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

“The Tattoo Experience: Full Overseas Participant List,” Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

“Hans Majestet Kongens Garde,” Wikipedia.

Rogers grew up in Tampa, Florida, and lives with her husband, two kids, a dog and a cat near the coastal wildlands of North Carolina. View profile

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