HOLLYWOOD CHRISTMAS PARADE
The Hollywood Christmas Parade is rich in
history. Today, the holiday season is kicked off with a star-studded
extravaganza with nearly 100 celebrities offering their holiday cheer to the
people of Southern California and the World.
The very first parade, in 1928, consisted of only one actress, Jeanette Loff, and Santa Claus.
In an effort to attract shoppers and their families to Hollywood Boulevard during the holiday season, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea of the parade. The Chamber started out by decorating Hollywood Boulevard with live Christmas trees and other Christmas decorations. Then to add excitement to the event, a live reindeer pulled sleigh carrying Santa Claus and Ms. Loff made it's way down the Boulevard.
Since the main attraction seemed to be Santa Claus, the Chamber appropriately named it the " Santa Claus Lane Parade."
Each year, with the help of local businesses and the community, the parade grew. In 1931, a truck pulled float replaced the live reindeer pulled sleigh. Santa's carriage was now pulled by model reindeer that soared through the clouds and over a miniature village while a machine made artificial snow. Santa was now able to greet the shoppers through a public address system that also broadcast Christmas carols. But Santa and the celebrities weren't the only ones in the parade that year, American Legion Post 43 marched with their color guard and drum and bugle corps. That year also marked the change of live Christmas trees aligning Hollywood Boulevard to a 16 foot, 750 pound metal Christmas trees with strings of lights. A new standing tradition began with the making of the first Grand Marshal, Comedian Joe E. Brown in 1932.
Thereafter, throughout the '30s and into the '50s, many well known celebrities, including Bette Davis, Evelyn Venable and Mary Pickford all flipped the switch lighting the Christmas trees, thereby officially beginning the holiday season.
During World War II, in the true spirit of the season, the metal Christmas trees were donated to the war effort and the parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944. However, the first Christmas Parade after the war had a record number of people coming out to celebrate. In 1946, nobody could have known that a favorite Christmas song would come out of the Parade. But that's exactly what happened. When Gene Autry rode his horse, Champion, down Hollywood Boulevard (or Santa Claus Lane) and heard all the children yelling, " Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus", he couldn't help but come up with the idea for the song he co-wrote with Oaklely Haldeman. Two years later, Bill Welsh and two cameramen broadcast the first local televised parade to the people of Los Angeles.
The 1950's through the 1970's found the parade growing with the addition of floats, animals, bands, clowns and lots of celebrities. In 1978 Jack Foreman, the President of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce asked John Golden of the Western Costume Company to offer ideas that would increase the excitement and glamour of the parade.
To start with, the parade was Officially renamed " The Hollywood Christmas Parade" in an effort to increase celebrity involvement. With the help of Johnny Grant, Vice President of Public Affairs for KTLA, the parade was broadcast locally, for the first time, on KTLA. That same year brought almost 500,000 people to Hollywood Boulevard to watch the parade and it's festivities. In fact 50,000 people were turned away that year for fear of overcrowding. So in 1979, fifty years since the first parade, the route was lengthened to 3.5 miles and now includes Sunset Boulevard.
Today over one million spectators line the
streets of Hollywood to see the beautiful stars, classic cars, equestrians,
bands, floats, and don't forget, Santa Claus, ring in the holiday season to the
World. With the addition of the UPN network broadcasting the parade nationwide,
several million more spectators will enjoy the parade throughout the holiday
This year the parade will start at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Orange, (in front of the World Famous Mann's Chinese Theater) and travels East down Hollywood Boulevard to Vine Street, turning South to Sunset Boulevard, and turning West on Sunset Boulevard to Highland, where it will turn south again to its final stop.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade is produced for the sole purpose of entertaining and educating the people of the United States and the World on the glamour of Hollywood. It is the committee's charge to mount the best and most exciting TV special to kick off the holiday season, which is watched by millions of viewers nationwide, while at the same time entertain the millions of spectators that are lines up on the parade route. The Hollywood Christmas Parade is dedicated to bringing together all the entertainment principals of this reborn community to speak as one voice to acknowledge that Hollywood is the entertainment capital of the world.
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