The Saugus High School marching band and color guard is continuing its efforts to make it to Washington, D.C., after earning an invitation earlier this year to play in the 2023 National Memorial Day Parade.
The opportunity is rare and Saugus’ marching band and color guard has been forced to jump hurdle after hurdle – from a shooting in 2019 that devastated the school and the community as a whole, to having to endure practicing music through a pandemic, all the while going through several music directors.
Now they face one last obstacle in their efforts to participate in the parade – the money needed to get there. Fortunately for the students, there have been some in the community that have been more than willing to help.
On Saturday, the Saugus marching band and color guard hosted a fundraising event at the California Bakery & Cafe – where owner Augustine Prieto set up a doughnut decorating contest.
“Well, Julio [Del Rio] sat down together and put something together, something that will make sense, something fun,” said Prieto. “You know, the pandemic is over and it’s been a while since we really got together with the kids. So we decided to put something together and have fun and it was a doughnut contest, a doughnut decorating contest.”
Prieto and his crew at the bakery hand-shaped several doughnuts in the shape of an “S” for participants to decorate with blue and white frosting (Saugus’ school colors) and an assortment of sprinkles.
The winner of the contest would get a small prize, but the aim of the event was to raise money for their journey to the nation’s capital. All of the proceeds from the event went to that fund and Prieto said 30% of the day’s sales, and 30% of any money made from their tamales during December, would also go toward that fund.
Del Rio, vice president of the band and color guard’s booster program, said Prieto was a man with “a heart of gold” who always finds ways to step up and help the community.
“He makes Santa Clarita a better place to live, because of what he does,” said Del Rio. “He put up his location for free, and he doesn’t expect anything in exchange. When there are fires, he opens his place and he has free breakfast for the firefighters and first responders. [Does] he get something from that? No. So I really feel that the response from the businesses in the community is fantastic.”
Del Rio’s son, Rodrigo, is a junior at Saugus and plays in the marching band, and said he’s thankful for the attention and support they’ve received recently – something he said wasn’t always the case.
“The seniors especially, they don’t say this any longer, but for a long time the band was kind of ignored, both at school and in the community,” said Rodrigo. “But now people actually know who we are and they’re trying to help us get to this trip, which is really neat.”
Rodrigo said seeing what happens after the trip to Washington is another thing he looks forward to.
“It’s just really meaningful that the community’s helping us get to Washington, and I’m excited to see where we’ll go after,” said Rodrigo.