Seventeen-year-old Thomas Cox, a junior at Science Hill High School and a son of Johnson City Salvation Army Corps Commanders Michael and Laura Cox, will be there in the cornet section of the 2017 Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Honor Band, representing not only his hometown but the army’s entire Tennessee-Kentucky Division.
One of two musicians from the division chosen to join the Salvation Army’s 98-year-old Rose Parade band, Thomas left Tri-Cities Airport for California early Wednesday morning.
Aside from the honor of being selected, it was his first trip to the West, as well as his first time flying on his own. And for the unknowns that lay ahead, the teen was brimming over with anticipation on Tuesday. “I am very excited. There’s been a lot of expectation since I found out,” he said.
His brothers and parents left the Tri-Cities on a later flight Wednesday and will be standing along the parade route when the band marches past Monday morning. “I’ll be taking pictures and posting as many of them as I can on Facebook, too,” his dad said.
While there, the family also has plans for a trip to Disneyland and stops at other famous Los Angeles-area tourist attractions. “I’m not sure what else we’re going to do but the weather is supposed to around 50 (degrees) all week.”
The Salvation Army band first appeared in the Rose Parade in 1920, led by Bandmaster Harold Gooding, who saw the parade as an extension of the Salvation Army ministry and an opportunity to spread awareness of its work to an international audience.
In more recent years, the army has conducted a music camp during the week leading up to the parade, bringing together band members from across the country for practice and fun.
The band’s nearly 100 years of involvement in the Rose Parade makes it the parade’s longest continuously participating marching band.
The parade’s scheduling on Monday is part of an even older tradition first observed in 1893 to avoid interfering with worship services at churches along the parade route on that New’s Year’s Day Sunday.