Dan Ryan, director of veteran services, has begun playing his bagpipes throughout his neighborhood to help raise his neighbors' spirits.
Published April 13, 2020
With isolation and fear in full swing amid the COVID-19 crisis, Dan Ryan is lifting up his community in a unique way: He’s taking to the streets of Buffalo to play his bagpipes.
Walking along the sidewalks of his North Buffalo neighborhood, Ryan, director of veteran services at UB, wears a Scottish bagpiper uniform as he plays traditional songs, providing musical delight every evening for his confined neighbors.
Initially practicing alone in his backyard, Ryan began taking his “one-man parade” on the road in an effort to provide distraction and diversion during a time of seclusion. But the reaction he’s received is more than he had imagined.
“I started playing on my own block, as we have a lot of young families on our street,” said Ryan. “People, especially families with small children, started coming out to watch. And it seems to be a nice break in their day.
“Many of them posted clips on social media, and suddenly, there have been regular requests for appearances on other streets.”
Ryan is a member of the Erie County Sheriff Pipes and Drums, a reserve unit to the Erie County Sheriff’s Department founded in 1994 by former Erie County Sheriff Tom Higgins. The volunteer group takes part in annual events and parades throughout Erie County.
As news of Ryan’s endeavors has spread, so have the opportunities and requests for him to perform.
“I have had the chance to play for a recovering COVID-19 patient,” he says. “This past weekend, myself and the band played for a Make-A-Wish child whose trip to Scotland had to be cancelled.”
Ryan hopes that with this small act of kindness he can bring together, through music, those who are forced to remain home during the pandemic.
“It was my hope that the sight of something as unique as a piper marching down the street would provide a welcome break in the monotony of a quarantine,” he says. “It seems to be holding true.”
Dr. Ryan is as good a human being as it gets! What a great way to raise people’s spirits!