Lifelong local resident Elizabeth DeLooze received the surprise of a lifetime at her 90th birthday party last weekend, courtesy of the Palmyra-Macedon High School Band.
A former drum majorette herself, DeLooze is a devoted fan of marching bands. She doesn’t miss an opportunity to see any of the local bands play, whether it’s at a holiday parade or a local concert.
Yet she had never had a show put on specifically for her -- until Palmyra-Macedon band teacher Debra Davis and more than a dozen of her students stepped in.
When one of DeLooze’s family members reached out to Davis to see if the band made public appearances, Davis jumped at the opportunity. She immediately responded with enthusiasm and got to work checking to see if any of her students would be willing to volunteer their time on a Saturday morning to make the day of someone they didn’t even know.
As it turned out, weeks of planning culminated in approximately 15 students playing “Happy Birthday” as DeLooze entered her party at the Log Cabin Restaurant on Feb. 4. She immediately placed her hands to her mouth in disbelief as the emotions came flooding in.
“Thank you so much!” she said following the final notes of her birthday tune.
Davis then briefly introduced the band while delivering a wonderful birthday message to DeLooze before cueing up the next song: the Irish classic, “Danny Boy.”
“Oh, this is my favorite,” DeLooze said as the song started.
That was no coincidence.
As part of the planning process, Davis wanted to know as much as possible about DeLooze, including her favorite marching band songs. Though the Pal-Mac band had never played “Danny Boy” before, it spent the two weeks leading up to the party learning and practicing the song -- and the students absolutely nailed the performance.
DeLooze, who began her own marching band career in Palmyra around the age of 7, was joined at her party by 50 family members, including each of her seven children, as well as many of her 17 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. But it was 18 strangers -- Davis, fellow band teacher Emily Herrmann, and 16 selfless students (and their parents) -- who provided a perfect start to the celebration.
The Log Cabin restaurant also contributed to the big day, going above and beyond to not only host the family, but also to accommodate the band inside the restaurant on a blustery day when temperatures sat in the single-digits.
To join in wishing Elizabeth a happy 90th birthday or to acknowledge the incredibly generous acts of the Pal-Mac students, please consider making a donation to the Pal-Mac High School Band.