The Oval isn’t quite the Highlands, but that’s not stopping Josh Whitson from playing his bagpipe.
Whitson, the Ohio State student immigration coordinator, has been playing his Great Highland bagpipe this week around campus, particularly on the Oval and South Oval. He’s preparing for a competition — the Ligonier Highland Games on Sept. 20 in Ligonier, Pa., where he said he’ll be playing in three solo events and competing with a band.
But don’t count on his being on the Oval daily — Whitson said he doesn’t practice in one spot.
“I try to move around so I don’t annoy the same people everyday,” he said Friday. “I live in an apartment, so I share walls with people, so I’m basically not trying to attract people. I’m just trying to find a spot where I hopefully won’t get yelled at.”
Some around OSU have taken to Twitter to share their opinions about the music, and while some were enthusiastic about the performance, others voiced disdain.
Jake Snook, a third-year in strategic communication and human psychology, tweeted Friday from his account @jake_snook31, “Kid with bagpipes on the oval (sic) needs a new hobby.”
He said later on Friday he was joking around. Before Snook tweeted, he was walking across the Oval with headphones on and said he could hear the bagpipes over his music, initially thinking, “I don’t remember this song having bagpipes on it.”
“It was more of a comical thing,” Snook said. “That his bagpipe was so loud that it just came through my headphones was just humorous.”
And when The Lantern told Snook what Whitson was practicing for, he said he’s from Pennsylvania and knows about the competition Whitson will be partaking in.
“That’s awesome,” Snook said. “I know the tradition.”
Evan Gifford, a third-year in marketing, tweeted about Whitson Thursday from his account, @GiffJiff: “It wouldn’t be the 2nd day of OSU classes without bagpipes on the South Oval.”
Gifford said Friday he, too, found it funny to see someone playing bagpipes on his walk home from the class through the South Oval, but he also found it somewhat significant.
“I think honestly it does show the diversity of Ohio State because there are people who are willing to play their bagpipe on the Oval and they don’t care what people think,” Gifford said.
He said he hopes to see Whitson playing again.
“I mean, it was pretty funny,” Gifford said. “Sometimes after class, if I’m a little worn down, it could lift my spirits a little bit.”
Whitson said he’s received a lot of feedback in person as well and has seen people take photos and videos of him playing.
“It’s lots of pictures, lots of selfies, lots of compliments, people yelling encore,” he said. “I’ve had people write notes if they couldn’t stay and leave it at my feet while I’m playing. All kinds of stuff. Business cards, people have said, ‘Oh, let’s jam some time,’ just, you name it.”