‘Epitome of joy:’ Chiawana High School mariachi band fundraising to buy sombreros

RICHLAND, Wash. — You can hear them before you see them.

Dozens of Pasco students at Chiawana High are part of the Mariachi Halcón del Río — the school’s official mariachi band.

Officials said the group practices after school for about four days a week before performing at both public and private events across the Tri-Cities decked out in “trajes de charros” or traditional mariachi clothing.

But according to their director of eight years, Allen Madsen, the band is missing a crucial part.

“We’ve never had sombreros, the traditional hats for students to wear,” Madsen said. “Our students are performing all over the community and at competitions, and their uniforms are an essential part of making them feel authentic and confident.”

That’s why he partnered with the Chiawana PTA to start a “sombrero fundraiser.”

The goal? To raise $5,000 dollars.

According to a Pasco School District news release, each hat costs $200 dollars and they need to purchase 25 of them.

“It would mean a lot for these students to have that final piece,” Madsen said.

Jacqueline Cardoza, the event coordinator for Vision Inspired Planning, decided to step in and invite the group to play at the highly anticipated Richland Sombrero Festival on June 18 after watching them perform during Cinco de Mayo.

“The Sombrero Festival is about helping local talent in our area achieve their goal,” Cardoza said. “What we’re going to do is we’re going to present them with a [$1,000 dollar] check.”

That money will go toward Mariachi Halcón del Río’s sombrero fund — pushing them closer to their goal.

Madsen said that support means everything as he believes the students deserve the best.

“It’s just an honor to do it. Being able to help draw that pride out of those kids in music is very important to them,” Madsen said. “It’s wonderful to see them get into it and then bring me recommendations of songs and music that they would like to perform from their grandparents or from their parent’s favorites.”

Madsen described hearing the band play as “the epitome of joy and happiness.”

“It’s such loving and joy-filled music. Everything is geared toward bringing smiles to the audience,” Madsen said. “Most of our students are going to be [at the Richland Sombrero Festival] bringing their excitement and passion for this music. We’re going to be performing all kinds of different styles of mariachi music and you’ll hear some singing, you’ll hear some instrumentals but no matter what it’s going to sound wonderful and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The band is still a couple of thousand dollars short for their fund so they’re hoping that the community will come out and support them.

Organizers said the festival will be held from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Columbia Point Marina Park in Richland. Mariachi Halcón del Río will perform a 45-minute set at 12:45 p.m.

“The festival will feature Stefanie Montiel, Latin Grammy Award Winner Tejano Artist, a BBQ cook-off, and more!” a news release said.

If you would like to donate to support Mariachi Halcón del Río students, please contact Karla Lamberto, Chiawana High School ASB Bookkeeper, at 509-543-6786, ext. 5605 or klamberto@psd1.org by June 19, 2022.

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