Red Deer Royals to host fundraiser at Sheraton Hotel

The award-winning Red Deer Royals are great ambassadors for Red Deer — now the band’s boosters want the community to return the favour.

The award-winning Red Deer Royals are great ambassadors for Red Deer — now the band’s boosters want the community to return the favour.

The Rotary Clubs of Red Deer are throwing a Mac and Cheese Luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel on June 5 to help launch the Royals’ Find a Home Campaign, as well as purchase new band uniforms and instruments.

The guest speaker at the benefit will be New York firefighter Richard Picciotto. He was a battalion commander who survived the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Word Trade Center after being trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building for four hours.

Author of the best-seller Last Man Down, Picciotto will give a riveting eyewitness account of one of recent history’s most defining moments, said Red Deer Fire Chief Jack MacDonald, who encourages support for the Royals by buying tickets to the luncheon.

“I encourage everyone to tell their neighbours and friends to come and join us.”

The last time the local Rotary clubs banded together for a Mac and Cheese luncheon was in 2009, when about $125,000 was raised for the Red Deer Food Bank.

Rotarian Jim McPherson, who’s co-chairing the upcoming Royals benefit with Ray McBeth, said it took a few years to come up with another good cause for a major Rotary fundraiser. This time, organizers hope to muster at least $100,000 from the luncheon for the band, whose 104 members are between 11 and 21 years old.

“The Red Deer Royals have been outstanding ambassadors for Red Deer, and hundreds upon hundreds of young men and women have developed leadership skills because of their engagement with the Royals,” said McPherson.

The marching and show bands “mean a lot to Red Deer,” he added, because “they have done an awful lot for our youth.”

Red Deer Royals director Michael Mann predicted the Rotary effort will make a huge difference.

The Royals are having to replace old uniforms and drums at the same time as fundraising for $1 million towards getting a permanent home. “Our marching band’s uniforms are 10 years old, and our concert band’s are 25 years old and getting frayed,” said Ingrid Anderson, chair of the Red Deer Royals Alumni Committee.

Her group also needs a fieldhouse-sized space for practising marches.

The Royals currently use Westerner Park facilities and school gyms. But the former spaces are not always available and the latter spaces are too small for rehearsing marches, said Anderson.

The Royals previously partnered with Red Deer College to gain accommodation in a proposed new RDC fieldhouse, but that construction project has been put on hold. Anderson hopes to form another community partnership on a new building project.

McPherson is pleased by corporate support for the benefit, so far, with the Sheraton Hotel and Black Knight Inn joining a growing list of sponsors.

Tickets to the 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. luncheon will be available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com