Funds from city helps school band toward London parade
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — Thanks to a $15,000 contribution from San Luis, a marching band made up of elementary school students figures it has raised more than half the money it needs to pay its way to London to perform in that city's New Year's Day parade.
The donation approved Wednesday by city council came none to soon for the Gadsden Elementary School District, which had a deadline this month to pay its latest installment toward the total $270,000 cost of the trip.
“We have to send the money now,” said Liliana Navarrete, president of a committee of parents of the district's band members, following the council's decision. “At any rate, we are going to work (toward raising the remaining funds) up until the day before we leave.”
On the heels of the city's contribution, the marching band on Friday received another donation of $2,000 from residents of Sun Vista Resort in Yuma, where the band had performed earlier in the month.
Since last spring, the band and the district has been gathering travel money through a variety of fundraising performances and other events, as well as from donations from businesses and individuals around the community.
The effort began after Duncan Sandys, former mayor of the London suburb of Westminster and great-grandson of Winston Churchill, personally came to San Luis to deliver an invitation for the parade to the band.
The parade has been described as one of the world's largest, and the invitation was the latest accolade for the group of elementary and junior high school students who previously distinguished themselves in performances in the Hollywood Christmas Parade in Los Angeles and the Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix.
The band originally faced the prospect of bringing together $300,000 to pay the its travel expenses — or $3,000 for each of the 100 band members planning to go. That amount has since been reduced to $270,000, with 10 members deciding they won't be able to make the trip.
Navarrete said the parents committee is hoping to raise another $50,000 for the trip through a Scratch and Win game that offers players a chance to get discounts at area businesses.
The game is being promoted by the district's schools, she said, and if it meets that fundraising goal, the band would need just under $100,000 to pay the balance of the cost of the London trips.
Convincing the city council to donate toward the parade appearance was not an easy sell. The city council debated the request from the parent committee for a month and a half, with at least one councilman calling on the district to match whatever amount the city chose to give.
Then on Wednesday, the council agreed to give $15,000 in city funds.
“It is phenomenal, it is a great victory,” said Navarrete. “They have answered (the funding request) in the manner of the people they are, our city representatives. The band is going to show off our city and display the talent of our children on another continent.”
For more information around donating toward the trip or about fundraising activities, call Rocio Villa in the district office at (928) 627-6554.