The first Latina Tournament of Roses President returned from south of the border with a little musical spice to sprinkle over the 2020 New Year’s Day parade.
Laura Farber completed her fifth official Tournament trip — this time to Costa Rica, carrying a Rose Parade invitation to the Banda Municipal de Zarcero.
Each time she ventures forth representing the Tournament, she told Pasadena Now, the experience grows more enlightening.
Upon Farber’s arrival, she was met by a delegation including the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, and Elesban Rodriguez Rojas, the go-to man for music at the country’s Ministry of Public Education since 2001.
“We are ‘on’ from the minute we get there until the minute we leave,” Farber said. “I’m doing a lot of public speaking and meeting a lot of people and we’re making a difference.”
She is working on keeping her promise to bring the parade a more culturally diverse selection of participants that might, in turn, attract a wider audience of parade watchers.
“We’re going to have bands from Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Mexico, and El Salvador.” Farber said. “That is the highest number of Latin American bands we’ve ever had. This year is unique because I’m the first Latina and I wanted to have Latin flavor. We have huge Latin communities and they will turn up in huge numbers.”
As for the musical “Ticos,” as the Costa Ricans are known, the trip will be life-changing, Farber said.
“These are people who mainly come from an agricultural community, and some come from many hours away to practice,” she said.
The city of Zarcero is located in an agricultural trade zone which allows the local community to support the musical group. The band also receives support from local sponsors that allows them to perform internationally.
The Costa Rican Banda Municipal de Zarcero was created in 2008 for the community to develop artistic skills for their youth. The School of Music offers a symphony orchestra and a marching band. Their color guard team was added in 2012. The groups have performed internationally in America, Europe and Italy.
“It was absolutely amazing to see them and meet them,” Farber said. “And what was cool is they have their own special traditions. They have the color guards with the banners, but they have folklórico and they integrate that with the pieces that they play, so you get an amazing Latin flavor. I’d say it’s not dissimilar to the Mexican folklórico, but it has its own flavor and approach.”
The band features adornments of Costa Rican culture and bright colors inspired by the Central American country’s lush jungle wildlife and flora.
Americans don’t understand how important the opportunity is to the country, including the economic impact.
“The economic impact that our parade has on these little towns in these countries and around the world is huge,” Farber said. “When you go to these towns, it’s a big deal. There’s a man who owns a local bakery, a small little shop, and they’re so happy because on the weekend the kids come to practice and the families come and spend money in the bakery.”
Emotionally the impact is huge as well.
“There was one young lady who had tears in her eyes because she has been waiting 11 years for this,” Farber said. “She’s been with the Education Ministry’s Rojas since 2008, and they always have watched the Rose Parade. For them, this was a dream. They are pinching themselves.”
To get to Pasadena each band member must raise about $2,000 and the group is looking for donations and any assistance to make the dream a reality.
Those interested can donate here: https://www.bmzarcero.com