Tournament of Roses Band makes 84th consecutive appearance
BY COLLEEN FERGUSON –
They came to make music, and also made history–again. The Salvation Army Band marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California for the 84th year on New Year’s Day of 2003–holding onto its standing as the longest-running band entry in Rose Parade history.
This year, under the direction of Kevin Larsson, director of music ministries for The Salvation Army Southern California Division, approximately 220 band members assembled from across the United States and Canada, and from Europe and South America, to participate in the 114th Tournament of Roses Parade.
Wearing The Salvation Army’s distinctive red and midnight blue band uniforms, they played for several hundred thousand spectators along the five-mile route of the world’s most famous parade, as well as an estimated worldwide television viewing audience of 350 million. Marching with them was Southern California Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred Van Cleef.
This is the fourth year the Tournament of Roses Band has comprised musicians from across North America and beyond. Two musicians each come from Salvation Army locations in the U.S. and Canada, and a guest band is invited from one location–this year the Amsterdam Staff Band from the Netherlands under the leadership of Bandmaster Howard Evans. Four musicians also traveled from Chile for the event.
They began arriving after Christmas, finding comfortable accommodations at The Salvation Army’s Camp Mt. Crags in the Malibu Mountains. The 32 members of the Amsterdam Staff Band participated in Bandfest, a Tournament of Roses event held at Pasadena City College, featuring performances by many of the bands on hand to march in the parade.
Among the musicians was cornet player Mike White, associate executive director of major gifts for the division, marching in the parade for his 34th year. He was up well before dawn to catch a chartered bus at 5:15 a.m. from the Tustin Ranch Corps for the trip to Pasadena in time for the 8 a.m. start.
Why does he do it year after year? “I absolutely love it,” White said. “It’s a wonderful witness, the fellowship and camaraderie with other band members is special, and it was a particular thrill to be able to march next to my son for the eighth year.” White’s father also marched with him for many of his 34 years.
White was quick to point out that he holds no record for years of participation in the parade, noting that baritone player Harry Sparks was marching for his 59th consecutive year this New Year’s Day.
Marching down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard for the first time this year were two young Canadians from Saskatchewan, Canada–tuba player Tyler Clare, 19, and 15-year-old Mike Reilly, baritone. How do they describe the experience? “Incredible,” said Clare. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s incredible how people get together from all over the world to do this.” Reilly, the son of Salvation Army officers from “the tiny town of Tisdale,” added that it has been “a great experience. It was very emotional–and a little bit treacherous,” he said, referring to occasional encounters with the inevitable debris that found its way onto the parade route from the thousands of spectators.
This year’s musical selections included “Tournament of Roses 2000,” introduced two years ago by late Southern California Salvation Army Bandmaster Chris Mallett, “Stand Up For Jesus,” “Pioneers” and “God of Wonders.”