The Red Deer Royals are a second family to Elise Bluett.
The 19-year-old Hunting Hills High School graduate has been a Royal for six years. She first joined the marching band in her early teens when a friend suggested she’d love it.
“She told me about the family you create here, and even in my first year I could see it already. The bond you create with the people here is incredible,” said Bluett, Royals conducting drum major.
This year marks the 49th year in the band’s history.
Between the colour guard and brass, woodwind and percussion musicians, there are about 90 Royals.
After 48 years of shuffling between rehearsal venues, the Royals found a permanent practice facility earlier this year at St. Joseph’s High School’s Kinsmen field house.
“Having a place we can call home for our little family is really nice,” said Bluett.
“It’s special to have our name on the wall and our logo on the floor instead of wondering where we were going to be each week.”
Bluett said she hopes to stick with the Royals until she’s 21 – the maximum age for a Royal. After that she wants to give back to the band by instructing musicians or having a position on the board.
Michael Mann, Red Deer Royals director and Red Deer Community Band Society director, said musicians like Bluett help the younger musicians succeed.
“Their strength as musicians increases tremendously by putting them with experienced players – they can’t help but get better. It’s very unique to have a band with a wide range of ages,” said Mann.
This year will be a more low-key year for the Royals, Mann said. But next year there will be plenty to celebrate as it’s the band’s 50th year.
“We’ll have some events planned to commemorate that. We’re striking a committee for the 50th anniversary, and we’ll go from there,” he said.
Red Deer Royals alumni is looking for contributions to meet the financial obligations of the Kinsmen field house, Mann added.
Mann said the field house is a one-of-a-kind facility, and the band is excited to play there.
To donate, you can visit www.reddeerroyals.com.