January is usually a dead time for the Jersey Shore, even in towns that have a healthy year round population like Cape May.
But on Thurdsay night, the Ugly Mug was packed wall to wall with people in kilts and plaid drinking whiskey and wine and, for the more adventurous, tucking into a haggis dinner.
The “Burns Supper” is a world-wide tradition that honors the birthday of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. The event was brought to Cape May nine years ago by Jack Wright, publisher of Exit Zero, Cape May’s fantastic weekly newspaper. A Scotsman, he came to Cape May after working in the New York magazine world, founded his paper, and never looked back. He MCed the event – in new kilt – a job that included gently mocking those who didn’t want to try the haggis even though it wasn’t “real” haggis, which is made inside a sheep’s stomach (my favorite part of the night was when the “haggis” was presented, and then stabbed after a reading of “Address to a haggis.”).
Wright also, along with Cape May’s karaoke king Terry O’Brien, sang the Scotish national anthem, and a rousing version of the The Proclaimer’s “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles).”
In between poetry readings and songs, the Irish Pipe Brigade from Wildwood marched through the narrow isles of the Ugly Mug. Why Irish? It’s the off season at the Jersey Shore. You take what you get, especially when it comes to very talented bagpipe players and bands.
I’ve always meant to go to this event, but it sells out almost immediately after tickets go on sale. If you want to go next year, pay attention to Exit Zero’s website, which is where us out of towners can pick up tickets.