NB Firefighters Pipes and Drums

New Braunfels Firefighters Pipes and Drums are set to once again host its annual St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl.

Every St. Patrick’s Day, the New Braunfels Firefighters Pipes and Drums organization plans to unite the community through beer and bagpipes during its annual pub crawl.

The March 17 event, hosted by the Pipes and Drums, will begin at 5 p.m. at Krause’s, and will move to a different bar every hour.

Pipes and Drums has hosted the event for nearly as long as the organization has been around.

New Braunfels Firefighter Captain Jesse Martinez has been in the Pipes and Drums since its inception in 2011.

Martinez and his colleague were inspired by other similar groups across the country.

Martinez said that the pipes and drums tradition started when Scottish and Irish immigrants came to the U.S.

“Every time they would have a funeral, they would play the bagpipes,” Martinez said. “In the 1800s when a lot of [immigrants] came to the states, they gave them low-end jobs [such as] firefighting, police … the mortality rate was high on both, so there was a lot of funerals — that’s where the bagpipes came in.”

This led to many fire departments having a pipes and drums group to carry on the tradition of playing during funerals; Martinez and his colleague wanted to bring this Scottish and Irish tradition to the German town of New Braunfels to honor first responders both in death and in life.

The two started the group in May of 2011 and had people who volunteered to play instruments. Some people had musical experience, but most members in the group didn’t have any musical background.

“We relayed to everybody, you know, it’s about the heart,” Martinez said. “It’s about the want to do it. If you have the intention coming from the right place, and the intention of doing it for what it’s for, then we can learn the instruments.”

This faith in the group’s intention to bring joy and honor through music, led to a fundraiser three months later to raise money for instruments.

The following month, the group became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; three-and-a-half months after the duo began talking about forming a pipes and drums groups, it finally became a reality.

However, speedrunning through this idea didn’t end there — after all, the group needed to learn how to play the instruments.

Martinez said that it takes at least a year to learn a song on the bagpipes proficiently; doing so in less than that time is rare.

Luckily for the group, there was a bagpipe player in New Braunfels who could teach the members.

After only six months of practicing, the group played at its first funeral.

“We all brought our wits together and just made it happen,” Martinez said. “It was the heart behind it that I think had the drive — the momentum — and [we were] able to go forward with it.”

In 2012, the Pipes and Drums had its first pub crawl. The members told local bars about their organization and cause, and the bars went on board with the idea. It wasn’t until the second year that they asked donations from the bars, and have continued to get their support ever since.

Since 2012, Martinez said the event has spread like wildfire — no pun intended.

“It’s gotten so big over the years that people actually skip bars in order to see us, [from] what we’ve been told,” Martinez said. “So if there’s no room at one of them then, they’ll go to the next one and wait for us…there’s no tickets, there’s no admission or anything. If you hear the bagpipes and you hear the noise, then that’s where we’re at.”

After playing music and celebrating the holiday at Krause’s, the group will head their way to Black Whale Pub, Phoenix Saloon, Callahan’s Pub and end the night at Scores Sports Bar.

The best way to contact the organization and follow updates on the event is through Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/people/New-Braunfels-Firefighters-Pipes-and-Drums/100061924995457/ .

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