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On New Years Day The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band made its 85th consecutive appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Southern California Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred Van Cleef commented, “It takes a lot of time and effort to bring together over 200 Salvationists into a cohesive group. Thanks go to Divisional Music Director and Associate Director Kevin and Jacqui Larsson for their leadership, Bandmaster Ed Freeman, Drum Major Bruce Freeman and Territorial Music Director James Anderson.”

Joining Southern California band members this year were 35 from the Southern Territorial Band with their Executive Officer Lt. Colonel David Jeffrey. Also participating were 75 other Salvationists from around the United States and Canada, plus a few from England, making a total band contingent of approximately 210.

Members ranged in age from 15 to over 70, and included Harry Sparks, 76, who has marched in the parade for 60 consecutive years. “I have been a part of The Salvation Army all of my life,” stated Sparks, “and I know that music is a ministry.”

This year Sparks’ son, Rick, and grandchildren Janet and Jim Sparks, joined Harry in his final march. “This year is my last parade—I am getting too old to do the walk. But knowing that members of my family are marching means that I am still there. I want my children to know the beauty of seeing someone called to God with the help of our music. It is an unforgettable experience.”

Bandmaster Kevin Larsson wrote a special march for the event based on Armed Forces individual theme music. “This was our way of honoring the military during some tough times,” said Larsson. Looking ahead, Larsson said, “I hope if I am still bandmaster in 2019, I will create a something really great to honor our 100th march!”

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