The year is starting on an optimistic note for the Red Deer Royals.
Not only did the community youth band receive official ‘Red Deer ambassador’ status from council, but also received $250,000 from the municipality towards the construction of a fieldhouse at the new St. Joseph’s High School in Timberlands.
Band director Michael Mann said it’s an honour to be officially recognized as Red Deer ambassadors, a role he feels his band had unofficially taken on for years.
His 90-some band members are also thrilled to hear that construction on their new Red Deer Royals home base is four months ahead of schedule — meaning they will be able to start using the fieldhouse for rehearsals by early April.
“We’re very excited,” said Mann, who’s preparing the teenage musicians for an international competition this summer. The Royals will head to The Netherlands, with stops in Germany and Belgium, right after marching in the Westerner Days Parade.
Being able to rehearse in one large space — a structure big enough to accommodate the whole marching band and colour guard — is a relief after having to move around different temporary rehearsal spaces around Central Alberta, Mann added.
The Royals, who will share the fieldhouse with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, are now on their way towards covering their $2.7 million share of construction costs. The long-term agreement with Catholic district ensures the Royals have appropriate rehearsal and performance space that’s wheelchair accessible and will include some acoustic features.
The Royals will have a 50th birthday celebration in 2019 — the same year the Canada Winter Games come to Red Deer and the marching band will help entertain the athletes.
The band performs at annual events around Alberta and has competed in Europe, Australia, the United States and Asia.