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Cottage Grove Park grad to star in Disney On Ice

Park High School grad Gretchen Hayes will start in the upcoming tour of Disney On Ice called “Let’s Celebrate!” (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Disney On Ice presents “Let’s Celebrate!” The production features Cottage Grove native Gretchen Hayes, who will be portraying a main character. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

A Cottage Grove native is lighting up one of Disney’s biggest stages as a main character in the Disney On Ice production of “Let’s Celebrate!,” a tour that takes audiences on a journey around the world.

Gretchen Hayes, 36, a graduate of Park High School, has been with Disney On Ice for the last 14 tours and has portrayed just about every role possible.

“Figure skating has always been a passion of mine and has been part of my life since I was 3 years old,” Hayes said in a recent interview. “I grew up skating and performing at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena and joined the production in 1996.”

Drawn to travel and accustomed to lengthy tours, Hayes said being a member of the Disney on Ice production has taken her around the world.

“There are generally seven to nine different ice shows traveling at the same time,” she said. “This is the longest tour I’ve been with. It’s cool because the show celebrates several different holidays here and around the world.”

“Let’s Celebrate!” stars Disney’s main character Mickey Mouse and incorporates more than a dozen different Disney characters from Buzz Lightyear and Pluto to the famous princesses and Alice in Wonderland.

“It’s not the story that you already know,” Hayes said of the production. “The first half is celebrating the major holidays, then we celebrate a Hawaiian luau, the Brazilian Carnival, the start of Cherry Blossom season in Japan and then back here for New Year’s and Christmas.”

As a child who grew up watching Disney movies, Hayes said her favorite part of performing is seeing the adults her age bring their children and have just as much fun.

“You can feel how electric the crowd gets when we all come out on the ice,” she said.

While she cannot reveal who she will be portraying in “Let’s Celebrate!,” Hayes said it will be a well-known main character.

“It will be fun to take a step back and really enjoy the play time and be able to portray an actual character,” she said. “I look forward to seeing those that haven’t had the opportunity to see Disney On Ice. There will be lots of surprises.”

The Disney On Ice production of “Let’s Celebrate!” opens at the Target Center Feb. 27.