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FEB.10, 2023— A local community member received a major surprise when she hit a major milestone birthday, and it’s all thanks to the Pal-Mac High Band.
Band members got together Saturday morning at the Log Cabin Restaurant in Macedon to celebrate Elizabeth DeLooze’s 90th birthday.
DeLooze, a community member, is an admitted fan of marching bands.
The band performed a three-song set including “Happy Birthday” (of course), “Danny Boy”, and “America.”
DeLooze watched the whole performance as she was surrounded by roughly 50 family members.
Here’s the kicker: She had no idea the celebration was coming.
Days before the performance, DeLooze’s granddaughter-in-law, Meghan O’Donnell, a Delware resident, reached out to the Pal-Mac School District to see if the band could play for her grandmother-in-law. This led her to Band Director Deb Davis, who says she admittedly had never received a request quite like this.
“They thought something like [a performance] was a long shot,” Davis said. “But if you don’t ask, you never know.”
Throughout their conversation, Davis said O’Donnell went in-depth about DeLooze’s long-standing love for band music, which has a deep connection to Pal-Mac.
DeLooze went to school in Palmyra through 5th grade. She marched for the Palmyra Band for one year, and she remembers marching under Dr. Green. She moved down Route 31 to Fairport in 6th grade and marched at Fairport High School through her junior year before going to Nazareth for her senior year.
DeLooze in her marching band outfit (provided photo)
She spent a one-year stint marching with Pittsford Fire Department, then returned to Palmyra to march for the Palmyra Drum Corps for three years. She was also a baton twirler for the Memorial Post 206 for a few years. According to O’Donnell and Davis, despite being limited in her ability to move, DeLooze is a regular attendee at parades in Palmyra, Macedon, and Fairport.
“She even follows college football just for the marching bands,” Davis said. “She’s just really into it.”
While Davis had never met DeLooze, she now had a better understanding of her passion for music. With that in mind, the only part Davis had to figure out next was who would attend the surprise performance. Again, this is not your typical request for the band, and it was on a Saturday morning.
Davis couldn’t guarantee that the whole band would be there, but the turnout turned out to be more than expected.
On the day of the performance, the group got together in the dining space at the restaurant and started rehearsing. All three songs in the set were new to the band, but Davis said their skill levels worked in their favor, and they pulled it together. The band chose "Danny Boy" because it is DeLooze's favorite song. "America" was played because it was a song DeLooze was familiar with from attending the various parades.
Now all that was left was to play the show.
It was about 11:30 in the morning when DeLooze was wheeled into the dining room by her family. In front of her were other family members, some were holding their smartphones to record the moment.
Within seconds of popping through the door, the music began. As mentioned, the band led off with “Happy Birthday.” In a series of quotes through O’Donnell, DeLooze said the band was “wonderful.”
“I couldn't believe they were giving up their Saturday to do something for me,” DeLooze said. “They are such good kids and have a wonderful teacher."
As the first song came to a close, a teary-eyed DeLooze thanked the band. Then began the next couple of songs. As the full set wrapped up, DeLooze joined the band in some conversation and a group picture.
When asked if she was surprised by the whole celebration, she added this:
"Boy, I'll say I was! As an old Irishwoman who doesn't cry, they brought tears to my eyes."
Davis said while the performance was a chance to do some good, the whole experience was also meant to be a teaching lesson for the band.
“The look [on DeLooze’s face] is what gives you the feeling as a musician that shows you how powerful the music is,” Davis said. “You just never know how something, whatever it is you’re playing, what it could mean to somebody, how special it could be.”
In closing, DeLooze shared one last message for the band.
"Thank you so much, you are all wonderful kids. Please keep on with your dreams and keep doing such nice things for other people like you did for me.”
Elizabeth DeLooze entered the Log Cabin Restaurant expecting to celebrate a new milestone of 90 years on the earth. But she came away celebrating another mark: A new bond with new friends, all for an old passion.
Special thanks to Meghan O'Donnell and Mary Brongo for sharing pictures and video.