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SB Sunrise Rotary Hosts Ciudad de los Niños Choir

The choir and Mariachi group will perform three times this weekend

The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise presents the Ciudad de los Niños (City of the Children) Orphanage Choir and Mariachi in a performance Friday, July 23 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre, 721 E. Cota St. in Santa Barbara.

The event is supported in part by the Marjorie Luke Theatre’s Dreier Family Rent Subsidy Fund.

The City of the Children Choir was formed in 1997 and has performed with the Symphony of Guanajuato and in many states of the Mexican Republic. Included with the choir is a Mariachi group and dancers. They entertained enthusiastic crowds when they visited Santa Barbara in 2004.

Ciudad de los Niños was built in 1977 with assistance from then-governor of the state of Guanajuato, Vicente Fox, in Salamanca in the state of Guanajuato in central México, 200 miles north of México City. The facility was opened to homeless and orphaned children in September of that same year. Padre Pedro Gutiérrez Farias has been the director since the beginning, and is assisted by a devoted staff of nuns and young priests.

The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise began its relationship with the Ciudad de los Niños when it linked with the Rotary Club of Salamanca and The Rotary Foundation to secure a matching grant to refurbish the orphanage’s aging and insufficient kitchen with new equipment in 2002.

Additionally, a new commercial washer and dryer were donated in 2004. Several members of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise visited Ciudad de los Niños to celebrate the completion of the new kitchen. They were entertained by the choir during their visit, and becoming quite enthralled with them, invited the Padre to bring them to Santa Barbara to perform.

Thirty-two children and two chaperones visited in 2004 and performed at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Since then, additional funding has been provided to the orphanage for facility improvement, beds, bedding and a bus donated by the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District.

Padre Pedro cares for and oversees 326 children ranging in age from newborns to 26 years old. The children are given a vocational education, and those who wish to pursue higher education are provided scholarships by local and state institutions of higher learning. Fox has followed and assisted Padre Pedro since the beginning of the orphanage in 1977.

Padre Pedro will arrive in Santa Barbara with the 40 children and young adults on Wednesday. The group will be hosted by local Rotarians in private homes. Local businesses have provided meals and activities.

Additional performances will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 24 at Arts and Letters Café, 7 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara, and the 10:30 a.m. service Sunday, July 25 at First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave. in Santa Barbara.

Donations of cash can be made to Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise Charitable Foundation, PO Box 50355, Santa Barbara, CA 93150.

— Karen Kawaguchi represents the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise.

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