OOB Pier Festival

By Hugo Bravo

The Salvation Army’s ministry at the Pier is one of its most beloved traditions, and a staple of the Army’s week at Old Orchard Beach. Local businesses, vendors, and tourists know that the Army’s dancers, singers, and other performers will host nights of entertainment with a message of Christ’s love.

This year, the Pier was alive with the sound of pop music covers, uplifting hip-hop songs, and dance routines that celebrated the life of Jesus. In addition to musical acts, there were magic shows, contests, and even a chance to take a photo with Disney Princesses and Spider-Man.

Nya Speller performed on stage with the Move Dance Company and played Disney Princess Ariel for the crowd. She says that the Pier ministry is unique because of what it brings to people of all ages, whether they know about The Salvation Army or not.

“Our Pier performances don’t cater to one certain group,” says Nya. “We want to meet the people in Old Orchard Beach, whoever they are, just like Jesus meets all of us whoever we are.”

Nya says that, although certain acts and performances are regulars on the Pier stage and are well known, it’s the connections and interactions with the audience that change every summer.
“You meet new people every year, and you return home feeling different every year,” says Nya.

Samuel Baptista, the master of ceremonies for this year’s Pier ministry, says that the carefree, relaxed mindset that someone has while vacationing in Old Orchard Beach can be the catalyst for accepting the Lord into his or her life.

“When someone comes to Old Orchard Beach, they might come to rest, have fun, or party,” says Samuel. “The moment that you bring the Word of God to someone when they’re the most vulnerable and not expecting it is when you get the responses. That’s when they take a step back, look at their own lives, and see if they’re walking on the right path.”

Samuel says that when The Salvation Army puts performers on stage, it shows that the Army is not a typical church, and wants to bring the Word of Christ to everyone.

“If seeing The Salvation Army perform on stage helps just one soul accept Christ, then everything we’ve done this week at Old Orchard Beach has been worth it,” says Samuel.

Deangelo Powell, who attends the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Dayton, Ohio, performed all week with the Move Dance Company. It was his second year entertaining the crowds at the Pier.

“I love the interactions,” he said. “I love when people are walking by, and they stop and see us performing and ministering. They’re intrigued with what we’re doing. Seeing their reactions, is a blessing.”

Powell, who grew up in the Dayton neighborhood where the Kroc Center is located, said he wants to teach dance and theater in The Salvation Army. He believes the creative arts are a great way to spread the gospel message.

“I love putting together a piece and seeing it on stage—something I did—and knowing it had an impact,” he said. “That gives me motivation to keep going. To know that I made that impact and I was there to plant that seed, is fulfilling.”