LARGO, Fla. — Bunny Pearce has been slamming the bass drum in the same band for 44 years and has no plans to stop.

“They’ll have to pry the sticks from my cold, dead fingers,” she said.

Her passion is shared among all members of the St. Andrew’s Pipes & Drums of Tampa Bay band, a 16-piece band playing traditional bagpipe music.

“Fifty years is a long, long time to have an organization to continuously running and never going out,” said band president Bob Barrie.

The group began as the dream of a bunch of Tampa businessmen who gathered at the St. Andrews Society in 1969.

“They wanted to promote the love of Scottish music and culture in the form of a marching band,” Pearce said. “I think that’s what we’ve done in the past 50 years of existence.”

Some members have been part of the band for decades. Others, for just a few weeks. The goal is the same for all: play music that honors the traditions of Scotland.

“This is in my blood. This is in my soul,” said Scotsman Steven Laurie, who plays the snare drum. “This is for fun.”

The band had a busy run during the month leading up to the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. They did events in St. Petersburg, Seminole, and Tampa. They play in most of the surrounding Tampa Bay-area counties.

“We do a lot of charity work for MacDill and the veterans,” said Barrie. “This is a wonderful group to be a part of.”

For 50 years, their music has pleased crowds. The plan is to keep it that way for years to come.

“Long after we’re gone, we expect this band to keep going,” Barrie said.

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