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