Outlanders United March in 17th Annual NYC Tartan Day Parade
Two-hundred fans of Outlander, an epic time-travel adventure set in 18th century Scotland, are marching as Outlanders United in New York’s Tartan Day Parade. While the eight-book series by Diana Gabaldon has sold more than 25 million copies since the first was published in 1991, it’s Starz television adaptation that is galvanizing fans old and new. Scores of fan groups are popping up on Facebook and Twitter and there are hundreds of blogs, podcasts, webcasts and forums feeding the frenzy.
Outlanders United is an amalgamation of members from various regional groups around the globe that host viewing parties and events. Last May, regional groups from the UK and New England hosted simultaneous 3-day Gatherings in Edinburgh and Boston. This year there are large fan-powered gatherings slated for Colonial Williamsburg, VA, Crieff, Scotland and Quebec City, Canada.
The oldest Outlander fan group, Ladies of Lallybroch, has a large presence on Facebook, Twitter and the web, as do groups devoted to lead cast members Caitriona Balfe (Caitrionation) and Sam Heughan (Heughan’s Heughligans). There is also Outlander Kitchen, where Theresa Carle-Sanders dishes up recipes derived from the books, and Outlander Podcast, a weekly audio series on all things Outlander. Together, many of the groups have raised more than $100,000 for charities supported by the actors and author, including World Child Cancer, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, and animal rescue Bianca Associacao. Fans marching in this year’s parade are donating proceeds from tee-shirt sales to the Tartan Day Committee.
US fans feel lucky that Starz has embraced their enthusiasm and shared so much. Fans in the UK aren’t so lucky. Though the show is produced entirely on location in Scotland with a mostly British cast and crew, no UK networks have announced plans to air the show there.
Large groups of fans have turned up for other Outlander organized events in the past. Whether it’s been Starz sponsored fan events and screenings in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego, or Random House’s Fan Retreat in Seattle to launch Gabaldon’s latest book in the series—fans can be counted on to heed the calling of the clans.
The fans self-mobilized the New York trip before the Grand Marshal or Outlander Starz sponsorship were announced. “Some fans have Scottish heritage, some have visited Scotland, but, thanks to the books, we all appreciate the country’s beauty and history,” said Debra Murphy of New York.
“We’re a very pro-active fan base,” says Ashley Gentry Fendt, one of the group’s leaders from Washington, DC, “We have fans coming from all over, including Canada and Scotland. We’ve learned to work together quickly when there’s an opportunity to support the show. We consider ourselves invested in Outlander’s success. We want everyone to watch!”