CROWN POINT | The Pipes and Drums of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department will be the lead band during the May National Police Week services in Washington, D.C.
Lake County Sheriff’s Capt. Ray Borchert, who heads the Pipes and Drums unit, said the band will play at the beginning of the 24th annual Candlelight Vigil May 13 honoring officers who died in the line of duty in 2013.
The group will also lead the May 14 National Emerald Society & Pipe Band March and be the lead band of 30 participating units at the May 15 National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service.
The Pipes and Drums will play at midnight each night at the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Wall and at a special service honoring federal officers who have died in the line of duty.
They will also perform at the church service and play at a picnic for Indiana families of fallen officers.
Borchert said Lake County Sheriff John Buncich will be the keynote speaker at the National Memorial Service. He said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., also will speak.
"I am truly honored to have been selected as the keynote speaker for such a solemn occasion honoring our fallen brothers and sisters in law enforcement," Buncich said.
To help defray the costs of this trip and other band activities, the Pipes and Drums is hosting its 12th annual Men in Kilts fundraiser from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. May 3 at the Lake County Fairgrounds 4-H building.
Tickets are $10 and there will be food, drink, prizes and live entertainment including Irish dancers, Celtic vendors and a disc jockey. Children under 10 are admitted free.
Borchert said the Pipes and Drums band has 22 members who practice four to six hours weekly on their own time. They are volunteers who pay for their own uniforms, instruments and travel, Borchert said.
“It’s a big commitment,” Borchert said. “One bagpipe or drum costs around $3,500. It is $700 for the kilts, which are ordered from Scotland. We pay our own travel expenses.”
Borchert said the band receives some funding from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, but is mostly supported by fundraisers throughout the year.
Band members include officers from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Hammond Fire Department, Crown Point, Schererville, Lake Station, CNN Railroad, Thornton and Homewood police departments, the Lake County coroners’ office and a retired Gary officer.
The Pipes and Drums of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department play in Indiana and Illinois at funerals of local police officers and firefighters, including those who had retired, and funerals for fallen soldiers.