San Diego’s NORTH COUNTY TIMES reports today that the vice president of communications for the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association Kristen Jarnagin reported during a Wednesday interview on KFI-AM in Los Angeles that an elite California high school marching band, after qualifying for the prestigious Fiesta Bowl National Championship band competition in Phoenix, had its trip canceled by a school band representative as a protest to Arizona immigration law.
Jarnagin told the NC Times that the Temecula (CA) Great Oak High School band’s cancellation, which came seven months before the scheduled competition, was a surprise as the school had previously competed for a spot in the competition and knew the costs of being considered for a spot at the Fiesta Bowl National Championship.
Phoenix-based Arizona tourism official Jarnagin to NC Times:
“The (hotel) sales associate has some very specific information (about Great Oak). In the cancellation process, it was linked to immigration.”
She said the unidentified person who canceled the reservation stated that it was a decision by the band leader and that parents weren’t consulted.She said cancellations are rare (Great Oak was the only school to cancel), and schools often wait for years (to qualify for the national championship).
The Spirit of Great Oak Band has participated in the Fiesta Bowl event before, finishing in second place in 2007.
The school responded to the Arizona tourism official’s statements by claiming the cancellation was solely due to budgetary issues. Superintendent Carol Leighty said, “It’s a honor to be invited, but they don’t pay for us to go. It’s a very expensive endeavor.“
More from the NC Times:
Because money for such trips is provided by students’ families and booster clubs, the district doesn’t decide where they go, although travel plans do go before the school board for approval. This trip had not yet reached that stage, Leighty said.
She said band boosters were aware of the costs when they applied to participate, but finances have gotten tighter and donations have diminished recently.
KFI-AM reported Wednesday that in order to fund the trip, each band member planned to raise $400 over the next seven months. That plan was agreed upon and in place when the “band leader” canceled the trip.
The news of the cancellation was met with a storm of protest from parents of band members and Temecula residents.
San Diego’s NC Times noted of Temecula:
The city has been a stronghold of support for anti-illegal immigration laws, with residents taking to the streets over the last six years to support U.S. Border Patrol officers and protest federal immigration policies.
In response to the (KFI-AM) radio interview, the district was inundated with phone calls Wednesday, Leighty said.
TVHS receptionist Mary Boyce said her school was flooded with angry calls Wednesday.
While the “band leader” was not named, the NC Times noted that it attempted to contact Great Oak band director Jerry Burdick-Rutz. Burdick-Rutz reported to the NC Times, through the school, that he was refusing comment on the mattter.