More than 200 young people managed to reach the United States despite the economic obstacles they faced
On Monday morning Keneth Quiroz could not hide her emotion together with her companions, while they waited for her turn to represent Panama in the long-awaited Rose Parade 2023.
“It’s the first time I come to the United States and everything is very nice,” said Quiroz, 17, who is part of the La Primavera Music Band, from Santiago de Veraguas, Panama.
“Right now it is like a dream that we are all fulfilling because since the beginning of the year we have been struggling to get here.”
Among hundreds of applications to participate in the parade, the band was chosen to participate in the 2021 event, but due to the pandemic it was cancelled. In 2022 there was no international band and their invitation was postponed for the 2023 parade.
Despite having more time to raise funds, this was not enough to pay for the entire trip of the 200 members, all between 9 and 20 years of age, as well as the staff who accompany them.
On social networks they showed videos of the musicians, who went to play in front of government entities to get them to agree to the request.
Their determination to participate was so great that they held various activities to raise funds. On November 29, the group held a vigil to ask the public and the government once again for monetary aid.
Finally they managed to get enough money for the trip, including a contribution of 109,000 dollars from the National Government of Panama. Panamanians and Latinos from the United States also came together to support the cause of young people.
Despite the good news, the total was not enough to cover the costs of a hotel.
The help they needed came
In an unexpected move, Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley has become the ranch for the participants.
Honglanc Hathuc, musical director of the Rancho Verde band, said that Javier Jiménez, musical director of La Banda La Primavera, arrived as an audience at the 2020 Rose Parade. There he met the Rancho Verde Music band, which was chosen to participate in that year.
“He sent me a friend invite on Facebook and we’ve talked ever since,” Hathuc said.
By June 2022, Jiménez contacted Hathuc to ask for his help and they could stay in the school gym.
“But we’ve never hosted another school in our gym, it’s something our district doesn’t normally do, so we turned it down,” Hathuc said.
On December 20, Hathuc received the call from Jiménez again, saying that they were his only option since they had nowhere to stay and otherwise they would not be able to participate.
“At that point, we started moving some mountains and seven days after our first conversation, he was here with the band at our school,” Hathuc said.
The help did not end there. During the trip, the instruments of the youngsters broke and the Rancho Verde school lent them some drums and wind instruments.
Hathuc, who has been with them since they arrived on December 27 and will continue to support them until they leave on January 4, said it has been a very rewarding experience sharing time together.
Justin Jiménez, one of the instructors of the La Primavera Music Band, said that all the participants were proud to be able to represent Panama.
“We are also grateful to Rancho Verde because they lent us the facilities such as the gym and the court to practice, they lent us instruments and they have helped us a lot,” he asserted.
Hathuc explained that he had the opportunity to speak with an 11-year-old girl who plays the flute and her determination was very inspiring.
“Her parents couldn’t afford to send her, but the group found money to bring her since all she wanted to do was play the flute and march in the Rose Parade,” the director stressed, admitting he couldn’t help but cry. when he saw them participate live and appear on television worldwide. “That was a dream and it happened today [Monday].”
For his part, Quiroz, representing all the students, said that, despite the negative that may be believed, for them it has been almost a luxury to stay in the school gym since they had to sleep in groups.
“When we went out, we did it in a group and we were telling stories [joking] and I don’t think we were going to be able to do that in a hotel,” Quiroz said. “In the end, the fight and everything we did was accomplished.”
La Primavera Musical Band was one of two bands from Latin America invited to this 134th edition of the Rose Parade 2023. Other international bands that came to this year’s parade included countries like Taiwan, Japan, Italy and Sweden.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.