Cape May Exit Zero Burns Supper Miracle

Cape May Exit Zero Burns Supper Miracle

“It’s a Burns Supper miracle,” Jack Wright said after realizing I would be wearing a kilt, after all at the 16th annual Robert Burns supper.

In the run-up to the much-anticipated winter event, it became apparent that my kilt was missing. Possibly as a result of the move last May from the motel apartment to our house on Broadway, I could not locate my kilt. The trousers would be my uniform.

I did not advertise my dilemma. I dreaded telling the great chieftain of the Burns Supper. Walking into the event sans kilt was about to happen.

The Cape May Exit Zero Burns supper started with humble beginnings. 80 people gathered in the Ugly Mug on a freezing, Thursday night in January to celebrate the poet Robert Burns’ birthday, a worldwide tradition. Cape May was about to experience her first Burn’s supper.

Interestingly enough Jack’s wife Diane Stopyra wrote an excellent piece on the background and historical perspective on Robert Burns. Consequently, I will leave those details to her eloquent essay. Keeping with tradition I was invited to read my favorite poem, A Mans a Man for All That. A great tale of the brotherhood of humanity.

And I read it in a kilt

Patricia Sain arrived without her husband Clyde. Clyde is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and all that entails.  They both were regular Cape May visitors and this would be Patricia’s 16th Burns Supper and the first one without Clyde.

Immediately Patricia recognized I was not properly attired in a kilt as I had been for the previous 15 Burns Suppers. Tactfully making an excuse to return to her car, “because she forgot something,” Patricia left.

Returning several minutes later Patricia presented me with not one but three different tartans in a garment bag. All three kilts were my size.

“Clyde would not be able to wear these anymore.” Mrs. Sain said offering them to me. “Why don’t you go put one on?”  I quickly headed to the men’s room absolutely in shock what just occurred.

The Sain’s have been guests of my motel over the years. We always sat together or near each other after their three-hour drive from Hasbrouck Heights to Cape May. Jack Wright earlier in the week asked me if I’d mine her sitting with me this year.

None of us had any idea how special this Burns Supper would be. The Master of Ceremonies, the Bagpipes, the music, and the atmosphere made the 2020 Burns supper special.

Combining 400 or more people into Cape May Convention Hall on a Saturday night in January is no easy fete. Music, food catered by the Washington Inn and whiskey provided by the Aaran Distillery was a recipe for a beautiful feast.

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  1. David Greene
    January 30, 2020 / 12:35 pm

    Wow! I read about these before, mostly through you as I recall. I will have to attend. Thank you John for the reporting.

  2. Charles Enlind
    January 30, 2020 / 12:54 pm

    A Scot tells his wife to put on her hat and coat. As she stands by the door she
    says are you taking me to the pub? He replies, no I’m turning the heat down.
    The British Commonwealth Club of North America In Washington, D C has
    an annual Robert Burns Dinner and I remember hearing that at one of

  3. January 31, 2020 / 12:59 pm

    John, only you could have an experience like this! So happy you got to wear a kilt after all, but such a heartwarming, albeit bittersweet, story of a kilt finding its way to you has me fighting back tears! And three of them no less! I’m sure they will carry very special meaning to you forever. It’s like your own kilt was meant to be lost. I’m sure it meant a lot to Mrs. Sain that not only were you able to accept them on behalf of her husband, and be the right size, but you wore one right then and there! Sweet story!!