Rescue Mission rehab resident to mark sobriety with Rose Parade wagon ride

It took Robert Brandt a half-century of falling off the wagon to drink himself from an ocean view in Playa del Rey to the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

Now the clear-eyed rehab resident will climb aboard a recreated Gospel Wagon on Monday during the mission’s first appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

“I’m going to be on the wagon,” declared Brandt, 67, beaming outside the mission along a urine-drenched sidewalk before rows of tents occupied by the homeless. “I am blessed. God saved my life.

“Without the help that Union Rescue Mission gives, I would either be here — or dead.”

Los Angeles voters last month supported a $1.2 billion bond measure to help house thousands of its neediest residents. And for the first time in its 125-year history, the nation’s oldest and largest rescue mission will highlight homelessness in the 128th Rose Parade.

RELATED STORY: Homeless advocate who lost leg walking Skid Row returns to the streets

The mission’s horse-drawn Gospel Wagon will roll down Colorado Boulevard and feature a waving Rev. Andy Bales and company much like the wagon’s initial rollout across Los Angeles in 1891.

That was when Christian philanthropist and Union Oil co-founder Lyman Stewart first paraded past Los Angeles saloons encouraging drunks to “get on the wagon.” Those who did got food, clothing and a bit of hope, mission officials say. Those who didn’t “fell off the wagon.”


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