The Saint gets the inside scoop on the Kate Kennedy Procession, taking place Saturday 13 April at 14:00. Ted Haxby, last year’s Kate and this year’s Marshall of the Procession, gives us a look at what it’s like to be behind the scenes of one of the oldest traditions at our University.
I walked into the Stewart Room in Younger Hall to find costumes strewn over countless chairs and Kate Kennedy Members discussing the wardrobe choices for tomorrow’s procession. I introduced myself to one such member and asked for Ted Haxby, whom I was meant to be interviewing. While I waited for them to return, I was approached by a man with a list, who introduced himself to me and asked if I knew who I was meant to be dressing as tomorrow. I was overcome with the urge to shout, “I shall be Cara Queen of Scots!” but decided that might make them less likely to tell me who the boy playing Kate will be. (I really thought I might be the one to crack them this year!) I finally settled on telling him who I actually am and why I was there. Just then, Ted walked over, and we left the costume room to find a better place to talk.
As everyone in St Andrews seems to already know what the Procession is, I started by asking him what the message the Kate Kennedy Club is trying to get across in doing the procession. He said that for them, it is a celebration of the Town and Gown relations. Members of the town and university are involved, which is “fantastic from that point of view.” Additionally, the money raised for the local charity is a huge aspect of the event; although it is yet to be decided which Fife charity will see the profits from this year’s procession.
When asked if he could give any clues as to who will play Kate, Ted (to my dismay) stayed strong. “No, no, on the day! She gets revealed in the quad and then is obviously the last person to be come out, so if you want to be the first person to see, make sure you’re outside Sallies.”
Preparations started last year, with the appointment of Kate (Ted) to Marshall of the Procession at the AGM. Starting just after the meeting, letters are written and communication started to ensure road closures and the like are dealt with well in advance of the event date. However, most preparations kick off just after Christmas, when costumes are taken in for repairs, or even repaired by the KK boys themselves! I am definitely picturing a Cinderella-esque evening, where the boys are singing and sewing costumes back together, probably owing to Ted’s involvement with TOG and my overindulgence into Disney as a child.
Ted mentioned that old KK members will be in attendance tomorrow. Life members who were in the club in the 1970s will be attending a dinner with current club members tonight. Some guys who left last year or within the last five years will also come up for it. “There’s the big procession supper that happens, and everyone that has a part is invited to take part, from the town or university.”
A new costume this year, put together by keeper of the costumes, Jamie Perriam is Joan the Fish Wife. The addition came after a meeting with the town and university to talk through what they think about the procession, and her name was floated about. The costume will consist of a woman with a wheelbarrow full of fish. The role of Marshall for the Procession is to be the procession’s steward – to organize the event and ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day, from timing of the procession to making everyone behave. Unfortunately, he will not be in costume!
As for memories of last year, Ted said he hadn’t known what to expect but that it was “absolutely brilliant to see so many people in the streets smiling and enjoying it” and he looks forward to more of the same this year. And hopefully better weather!