London’s Regent Hall Band Marches in Rose Parade

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The Rink Smells the Roses

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Regent Hall Band

by Helen Ridgewell – 

On a gloriously sunny New Year’s morning, 140 members of The Salvation Army Southern California 1999 Tournament of Roses Band, led by Bandmaster Chris Mallett, Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred Van Cleef and Drum Major Bruce Freeman, celebrated 80 years of involvement in the Pasadena Rose Parade.

In keeping with the parade theme, “Echoes of the Century,” Bandsmen Bob Docter, Harry Sparks, and Fred Borkgren represented “the Old Guard,” having marched for 50-plus years: Assistant Band Director Ed Freeman, Bandsmen David Imai, Dave Ferguson Sr. and Mike White recorded more than 30 years and Timbrel Leader Margaret Arnold, 28 years.

Between them, this group has marched an impressive 1,548 parade miles. In contrast, 10 of the 15 timbrelists and almost 50 instrumentalists were first-timers.

This year, the contingent, which also included representatives from Sierra Del Mar; Texas; North Carolina, and Canada, welcomed 34 British band members from the famous Regent Hall Corps in the West End of London.

Led by Bandmaster Steve Hanover and Corps Officer Major Alan Burns, the group enjoyed a variety of experiences during their visit, although parades featured prominently, especially in Disneyland and at the San Diego Holiday Bowl. Open-air concerts at Seaport Village and a visit to Sea World completed the band’s schedule in San Diego.

A weekend trip to Santa Barbara, where an evening concert and participation in the Sunday morning service brought inspiration and blessing, allowed the band a change of scenery.

In downtown LA, social services clients greeted the band exuberantly during a spirit-filled concert ending with an altar lined with seekers. Hanover described the deep impression made on his band members, saying “We will remember this spontaneous expression of love and appreciation as a highlight of our trip.”

An elegant New Years’ Eve supper at Tustin also included a joint band concert for “The Rink” with band members from “The Ranch.” With streamers and horns, the capacity crowd greeted the New Year three hours early so the band could get a few hours rest before the 4:30 a.m. Rose Parade wake-up call!

The band had an opportunity to renew old friendships during their final festival at the Pasadena “Tab.” Once again playing to a capacity crowd, the band and its soloists displayed their virtuosity as well as their sense of humor. Video presentations expertly enhanced the “major” works, broadening their audience appeal and ensuring that the band’s gospel presentation was abundantly clear.

“Brilliant!” was the word the Regent Hall band members used most frequently to describe their Southern California stay and they expressed heartfelt thanks to DMD Chris and Fay Mallett for the local coordination of their “Mission HIM Possible” USA tour.

photos by Larry Freeman

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