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San Luis student band invited back to London's New Year's Day Parade

The Gadsden Elementary School District #32 Marching Band performs at Southwest Junior High School in San Luis, Ariz. on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.
Victor Calderón/KAWC
The Gadsden Elementary School District #32 Marching Band performs at Southwest Junior High School in San Luis, Ariz. on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.

The renowned Gadsden Elementary School District #32 Marching Band is going back across the pond next year.

Students received a formal invite Thursday at Southwest Junior High School in San Luis, Ariz. for the 2025 London New Year's Day Parade.

The band has performed in the England parade in past years and are so popular with the British hosts that two of them flew in to give the invitation in person.

A large assembly was held with the marching band musicians and dancers as well as the Estrella Norteño student band that plays music from northern Mexico featuring an accordion.

"This is such an honor for the whole band because we work so hard for any performance we can be in," said Giselle Valle, who plays the flute. "We play in Yuma and Lake Havasu so for us to get to play in London... it means they see our hard work and all the effort we put in."

Bob Bone, the parade's founder and chairman, and parade ambassador Duncan Sandys told the crowd they've been impressed when the band previously performed.

Band member Marcos Cervantes, who plays the trumpet, was selected by band director Jesús Quintero to accept a ceremonial London parade umbrella and pin.

"It's such an honor that a band from our small city is going to such an international event," Cervantes said.

The San Luis High School band was invited to participate in the 2021 London parade but the event was later cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sidewinders band later filmed a performance on the school's campus for a recorded segment.

The United Kingdom has long known about the musical talent in San Luis. The Gadsden band first performed in 2012 and organizers say they have always stood out among the dozens of K-12 and college bands from the U.S. who go to the U.K.

"We know the reputation of this band and it's fantastic," said Bone. "We are blown away by the level and quality of the performance these young people manage to achieve. We know that they are going to light up London on January 1st, 2025."

In order to get the students to London, they're going to need some community assistance. Band director Quintero says they need to raise about $3,900 per student. With 90 students, that means they will need to raise about $351,000.

He said they'll be selling donuts and chocolate and holding other community events to raise the money.

"We're going to get to work... we've done it before," Quintero said. "What it will mean to the students, I mean, I can't really put it into words right now but it will be great for them."


Stay tuned to KAWC to hear from the Gadsden Elementary School District #32 band members and their director as well as a London parade organizer.

Victor is originally from West Sacramento, California and has lived in Arizona for more than five years. He began his print journalism career in 2004 following his graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Victor has been a reporter for the following daily newspapers: The Monterey County Herald, The Salinas Californian and the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he covered stories including agriculture, education and Latino community news. Victor has also served as a local editor for Patch, a national news organization with hyperlocal websites, in Carmichael, California in the Sacramento area. He also served as the editor for The New Vision, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which includes Yuma and La Paz counties. Victor lives in Somerton. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and following most sports.
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