For Gala’s Braw Lads and Lasses, there is always one thing about the Gathering that sticks in their minds, whether it’s the river crossing, Gala Hill or Scott Street.
But for Greg Kelly, it was the moment he was entrusted with the Burgh Flag by Bill White, the president of Braw Lads Gathering.
He said: “It was always the moment I pictured when I was younger, and receiving the Burgh Flag at 8am was superb. It’s a moment I will treasure for the rest of my days.
“And leading the cavalcade with Braw Lass Kim, it’s been a really great honour to represent my town and for so many of the townsfolk to come and support us meant so much.”
And he was full of praise for his Braw Lass, Kimberley O’May.
He said: “Kim has been terrific, I couldn’t have asked for any better.
“The support I have had from Kim and the other principals has been second-to-none.
And for Kim, her moment to shine was at the Auld Toon Cross, where her duty was to mix the red and white roses, a symbolic ceremony which commemorates the marriage of Margaret Tudor of England to King James the Fourth of Scotland in 1503, re-enacting the act of Sasine.
She said: “I’m absolutely speechless! It’s just been an absolutely amazing day from start to finish.”
“But during the roses ceremony, the crowd was absolutely fantastic.
“You can practise it and practise it, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the emotions that course through you on the day.”
It’s important to remember that for every Braw Lass who has just experienced her first Gala Day at the head of the cavalcade, there is another who has just fulfilled her third and final term of duty.
And for this year’s bearer of the white roses, Alex Mundell, it was a day that almost, but not quite, brought a tear to the eye of the unflappable 21-year-old.
Alex told The Southern: “There’s a lot of mixed emotions. I’m so excited and so proud to have done it all, but at the same time, just a bit tender and upset that it’s all finished.
“But I have loved every minute of it, it’s been great.
“Maintaining these traditions is very important indeed ... it brings the whole town out in support.”
It certainly was a Gala Day to remember. Conditions were absolutely perfect ... a hint of coolness in the air in the morning for the 308 horses and riders who took part in the mounted cavalcade, and almost Mediterranean sunshine in the afternoon for the 2,000-plus people who enjoyed the new family-focused activities in the Bank Street Gardens.
And for the thousands of people who lined the streets and followed on foot, it was, quite simply, the best Gala Day in recent years.
Large crowds watched the various events, such as the Raidstane ceremony, which marks the 1337 routing of English raiders by a group of Gala men while they ate the soor plooms off a tree in what is now Netherdale. To mark this historic victory, the female principals pin a sprig from the plum trees to their respective male counterpart.
Low waters on the Tweed meant the cavalcade could safely make the river crossing at Galafoot on their way to Abbotsford for the first time in several years, and this spectacle, too, sawmany of the public giving their support.
And on Gala Hill, it was very much a picnic atmosphere for the crowds, with the sun beating down and a panoramic view to savour.
After the poignant ceremony at the Auld Toon Cross and the visit to the Laird at Auld Gala House, the crowds were three or four deep all the way up Scott Street, to witness one of the most exciting parts of the day, as the principals led the procession in a breath-taking gallop up the steep hill to deafening cheers.
And then, the moving sight of the flag being dipped in front of the war memorial by the Braw Lad, alone for the first time that eventful day, before he handed back the banner in time-honoured fashion, unsullied and untarnished.
It marked the end of the ceremonial part of the day, but only the beginning for Gala folk.
The shows were in town, but by far the biggest party was in the Bank Street Gardens, as Edinburgh-based band Urang Mutang entertained.
It was certainly a fitting end to a fantastic week, with the Lindean and Torwoodlee rideouts also attracting a lot of support, as did the fancy dress on the Wednesday evening.
The family event in Bank Street has been described as a necessary link the festival has been missing for decades.
So, given its popularity, a new and exciting era has begun, ensuring an exciting futre for tomorrow’s Braw Lads and Lasses.
Our photographer Alwyn Johnston was out and about during the whole festival week ... we'll publish his pictures soon.