The Mercer Island High School (MIHS) marching band marched alongside the Puerto Rican marching band, Banda Escolar de Guayanilla (BEG) in the Tournament of Roses Parade (Rose Parade) in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day.
In 2012, the MIHS band marched with BEG in the same New Year’s parade. The parade is considered America’s New Year celebration, and only invites about 20 bands from around the globe to perform.
The two bands were reunited upon learning they were selected to perform again in this year’s Rose Parade.
However, this year, many BEG band members feared they wouldn’t be able to attend the Rose Parade because of the devastation Hurricane Maria left in Puerto Rico in 2017.
For the members of BEG, many of their families had to make the decision whether to use their few resources to send their student to Pasadena or “put a roof over their house,” former MIHS student Paige Robertson said.
MIHS band teacher, Parker Bixby, and Robertson spearheaded a fundraising effort to ensure BEG students could attend the Rose Parade.
Through silent auctions and various fundraisers organized by the MIHS bands and band boosters they raised some $50,000 for the cause.
Jonuel N. Lopez Martinez, a member of BEG, said BEG wouldn’t have a chance to make it to the parade if it weren’t for the MIHS bands and other sponsors.