Monday, December 31, 2007

The Angels arrive in the City of the Angels

The Los Angeles Times chronicles the arrival from El Salvador of the band named Nuestro Angeles to march in tomorrow's Tournament of Roses Parade:

A five-day trek from El Salvador to Pasadena was not supposed to be part of the Rose Parade route for the 230-member youth marching band Nuestros Ángeles de El Salvador.

But plane tickets were out of the question after a big chunk of the band's funding fell through just weeks before the parade.

What followed was an odyssey by bus that included thousands of miles on the road, plus two excruciating days in limbo on the border of Guatemala and Mexico.

But they made it, rolling into town Sunday only hours before their slot at Bandfest, the annual showcase of Rose Parade bands held at Pasadena City College this weekend. Organizers said the show drew more than 5,000 people.

"Uno, dos, tres -- brinca!" band members cried during the Salvadoran song "La Bala": "One, two, three -- jump!"

Saul Perez, one of the band's directors, said it would have been a crushing defeat if the group had not made it to Pasadena. The youth members practiced for more than a year, went through a rigorous selection process and were poised to represent their country on the world's stage at Tuesday's parade.

But problems began when 30 members of the group could not even begin the journey because they didn't receive visas. Then the band canceled their flights because their budget was still short $200,000. They set out instead in a caravan of five buses on Christmas Day.

Many have criticized the government of El Salvador with not assisting with the funding of the band's trip, especially at a time when the government is funding a big tourism public relations campaign including having El Salvador promotional videos running on video screens in New York City's Times Square. You can read coverage of the marching band's odyssey over the past week at the blog called Salvadoreños en el Mundo which includes a gallery with many pictures.

UPDATE:

Watch video from the parade at this link and this link.

9 comments:

Polycarpio said...

Tim,

I noticed that the story refers to "La Bala," which we covered in TESB before:

http://luterano.blogspot.com/2006/12/unlikely-christmas-carol.html

Carlos

Anonymous said...

Tim,

Happy New Year. Yes, these are good news indeed. Since childhood I remember watching the parade on TV with the entire family, it was one of our activities "the morning after". As a Salvadorian I feel proud of such positive achievements, it shows that success is still a valid word in our language and it conveys hope to anyone feeling defeated or overwhelmed by the critical situation in El Salvador, so evident worldwide, that steals the headlines about our country and portrays a poor image.

I am concerned about the lack of support the band received from government authorities being this a great way to promote El Salvador and a message of hope, a message of yes we can do it, yes we have brave young people, yes we have talented young people.

Most likely nobody from the government of El Salvador will ever give more than 5 minutes to a matter like this, not even to stop and think about how much is the expenditure to send armed forces to Iraq vs supporting a peaceful band.

With regards from the Rub Al Khali

Anonymous said...

We just watched them perform and it brought tears to my eyes - and I'm not even Salvadoran, though my husband is, and I work with Salvadoran teens in the US every day. The band was great. The intensity of their emotion was evident in their faces and in every move. Unfortunately, I think it is fitting that the Salvadoran government didn't support them...after all, the point of the trip was not for the kids to stay and make money to send back to El Salvador.

Anonymous said...

the band was greate, the cachiporristas and the dancers were fantastic, shame for Saca and the goverment, they don't deserve to say anithing about this band, I'm a proud salvadorian, and I was there, everybody salvadorian or not was cheering them and I was crying for the emotion, kids, you did a greate job,

PiPiL said...

Great post Tim,

Our tendency is to find a politcal side to everything, and this is no exception.

They planned, they came and performed, and made history.

Thank you for devoting this space to their participation.

Regards

PipiL

Marcela said...

Tim,

Thanks you for this blog I did not know of its existence untill about 10 minutes ago when I tried to search the web for pictures of the band that performed at the Rose Parade. I have lived in Southern Calif for most of my life. And I was never excited about the Rose Parade untill New Years eve when my family informed me about the band and their trip. I woke up at 6:00am after a night of dancing and headed to support and cheer the band at the parade. I will have to say I have never felt prouder of being salvadorean. I cheered yelled and saw many waving salvadorean flags. That day El Salvador made history and in a positive way. The band was amazing very humble but very proud. I think they did a fantastic job representating El Salvador. And I think that all of the Salvadorean people did a great job showing their support.

Marcela

Anonymous said...

tim, u should do a post on el imposible national park, it is the last forest remaining in el salvador and may be destroyed. also, with all the hype about tourism investment they should focus on the few areas that would be pleasant to visit in el salvador, i mean the natural ones like this forest.
http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/aar.cfm?id=el-salvador

http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/programs/education/teachers/curriculum/elsalvador/slideshow/index.html

Anonymous said...

As Salvadoreans, my family and I were very proud to see a band from our country perform in the Rose Parade in CA. It makes us think that we do have talented people in our country and that steals that criticism that we get for being
salvadoreans. I want to say great job to everybody, the band director a very special thanks, and shame on the SACA goverment for not helping them in something like this.

Fish Guy said...

It's no doubt something political can be made out of this, even if the government had helped. There is plenty of that here all the time, so I won't dwell on it.

But I will say this:

A group of young people overcoming adversity on their own to together make great thing happen --without government intervention-- IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT!!!!

For a change, these kids showed the world that there is more to El Salvador than violence, struggle and politics, which is getting old in my aging book.

This time is theirs, not the political critics'.

How proud I am!!!