Chicago Staff Band ‘opens’ Winter Olympics in Salt Lake

CHICAGO STAFF BAND concerts were enjoyed by scores of visitors. Here they perform downtown in Washington Square.

The Chicago Staff Band touched the hearts, fed the souls and communicated the life-giving gospel message to literally thousands of people during the opening celebrations of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Visitors from every nation thronged the streets of Salt Lake City in anticipation of the opening of the 2002 Winter Olympics; the city was also the focal point for ministry teams from all over the USA, including those of The Salvation Army, who were preparing for an unprecedented opportunity for outreach.

Adding its own special ministry contribution to the festivities, the Chicago Staff Band, under the leadership of Bandmaster William Himes, O.F., was welcomed at the airport by Lt. Colonel Harold Brodin, divisional commander; Major Wayne Froderberg; Bandmaster Chris De Ruiter (Salt Lake City) and Bandmaster James Anderson, territorial music secretary, Western Territory.

A number of performance venues had been jointly developed by Dan Williams, Ministry Outreach Director, his colleague Dave Willson and Bandmaster Chris De Ruiter, the first of which was the Olympic torch hand-over ceremony at West Valley City.

Seven thousand people were in attendance for this exhilarating occasion. Flags waved, crowds cheered and the Chicago staff band played a scintillating march as the symbolic passing of the torch took place.

Later in the day The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church hosted the band for a pre-opening ceremony concert. An enthusiastic congregation warmly greeted the band as the thrilling Olympic Fanfare by John Williams commenced the concert. Also featured was “Gaudete “(Norbury) and the xylophone solo “A Victor’s Palm” (Curnow) performed with great dexterity and assurance by bandsman Jeff Marquis. Lt. Colonel Mickey McLaren, the band’s executive officer, emceed the proceedings. To conclude a memorable day, the band participated with all the outreach teams in a commitment service led by Territorial Commander Commissioner David Edwards.

The band gave two concerts at a specially constructed stage in front of city hall, downtown in Washington Square. Each concert took place prior to and just after a concert by the world famous rock band The Beach Boys.

During the second of the band’s concerts the music of “Swingtime Religion” by Barrie Gott so captivated the crowd that one couple began to swing dance in front of the stage.

The final day of the weekend visit, the band participated jointly in two services with the First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City. Again the band moved and inspired the congregation with festival arrangements of “Amazing Grace” (Himes) and “Onward Christian Soldiers” (Fernie).

The second service concluded with a stirring rendition of the Olympic Fanfare after which the congregation gave the band a standing ovation.

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