Florida Divisional Band hosts historic visit in advance of Rose Parade
By: Brad Rowland
Since 1920, The Salvation Army has marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California on an annual basis. After the parade was postponed in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 133rd Rose Parade is set for Jan. 1, 2022, with the 108th edition of the Rose Bowl Game to follow. The 2022 installment will be the 102nd appearance of The Salvation Army in marching band form, and the Florida Divisional Band will serve as the guest ensemble to form the centerpiece of a 190-member group. In preparation for the journey to California, the band hosted Dr. Robert B. Miller, Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association president, and Kevin Larsson, The Salvation Army’s divisional music director in Southern California and the leader of the Rose Parade Band, for what was an historic visit.
While The Salvation Army holds a close relationship with the Tournament of Roses Association as a result of more than 100 years in partnership, the visit of Dr. Miller represented the first direct interaction of its kind. Prior to a meeting with the band that featured performances and powerful testimonies from Salvation Army soldiers, Dr. Miller and his wife, Barbara, joined with Lt. Colonels Ken and Dawn Luyk, Florida Divisional Leaders, for a tour of The Salvation Army’s facilities in the Tampa area. In addition, Larsson was able to tutor the band on marching scenarios before their arrival in California, providing valuable insight and setting the tone for what is to come.
“This is the first time we’ve done a joint visit like this, but it is something we are certainly going to try to do every year now,” said Larsson, “It’s really been a great collaboration, and we’re excited to build the relationship.”
More than 40 Salvationists will travel as part of Florida’s delegation beginning on Dec. 27, 2021, including band members, timbrelists and leadership. As part of the visit to California, the Florida Divisional Band will also participate in the Holiday Bowl Parade in San Diego, the Rose Parade’s Bandfest, and a parade through Disneyland. Following the Rose Parade, the band will support worship at the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps, with Lt. Colonel Ken Luyk delivering the morning message.
“We are excited about the opportunity to minister in California,” said Darryl Crossland, The Salvation Army’s assistant divisional music director in Florida. “The Rose Parade is only one aspect of the trip, with other ministry opportunities and the ability to fellowship with other Salvationist musicians. Above all, we look forward to being able to share the gospel on a grand scale and are grateful for the opportunity.”
In addition to the valuable experience and preparation for the band, the visit of Larsson and Dr. Miller is an avenue for growth in the partnership between the Tournament of Roses Association and The Salvation Army. The Florida Divisional Band will join forces with more than 100 additional Salvationists in marching through the streets of Pasadena on the morning of Jan. 1, 2022, but the ministry goes well beyond that, and Dr. Miller expressed gratitude and an eye toward a burgeoning future.
“We’re just here to say thank you. We’re here to soak it all in,” Dr. Miller said. “You’re all very special and you will have a unique experience. I think you’re going to have an experience that will be indelibly etched in your minds.”
“This has been an eye-opening experience for us. I think it’s a message from God that we, as an association, needed to understand our relationship and partnership more. I can assure you all that I will be sharing the ministry of The Salvation Army with my colleagues.”