80th Hollywood Christmas Parade Kicks Off
Los Angeles Daily News
by Dana Bartholomew
November 28, 2011
A A huge balloon of "Sesame Street" character Elmo makes it way down Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011 during the 80th Hollywood Christmas Parade
(Gene Blevins/Los Angeles Daily News)
The Hollywood Christmas Parade on Sunday celebrated an especially white Christmas -- with Grand Marshal Marie Osmond's toothy smile.
The 80th Tinseltown parade drew tens of thousands of visitors to hail the true start of Christmas in Los Angeles, and to benefit Marine Toys for Tots.
"I love that a tradition is still here after 80 years, that people still support it," said Osmond, 52, who is a member of the Osmond showbiz family renowned for especially gleaming Chiclets grins.
"I love anything that supports children and the holidays.
"It's so easy to go buy our grandkids and kids toys, but it's really important to buy one extra."
An unseasonably warm night drew passersby from across L.A. for holiday celebrity glitz to be later broadcast across the nation.
It was a wonderful life in Tinseltown for visitors as the parade wended its way for 2 1/2 miles along a U-shaped route from Hollywood to Sunset boulevards.
The event has been a holiday tradition since 1928. It was postponed for three years during World War II, but resumed again in 1945.
Parents and their kids lined up several deep to cheer a waving Santa Claus and 100 mostly TV celebs and B-stars.
They were followed by rows and rows of holiday floats, balloons, horses and 16 marching bands tooting holiday chestnuts such as "Joy to the World."
"We're looking forward to something for Christmas," said Liza James, whose husband Kris, and their two young sons Noah, 7, and Lucas, 4, rode the train from Santa Clarita to attend their first Hollywood parade.
"The best seat in the house is right here, live. We love it," she said.
The Hollywood parade drew such celebrities as Los Angeles Lakers player and rapper Ron Artest, also known as Metta World Peace, recording artist La Toya Jackson, and big-screen canines from Beethoven to Rin Tin Tin.
Soap opera stars to city officials touted the specialness of the holiday season.
Actress Kate Linder, who will celebrate 30 years with daytime soap opera "The Young and Restless" in April, walked through a red carpet gantlet of paparazzi prior to the parade.
"This is really wonderful," Linder said. "To me, it wouldn't be the holidays if this parade wasn't here. This really is the beginning of the holiday season in Los Angeles."
"My wish for Christmas is to make it snow in Los Angeles," said 4-year-old Alyvia Alyn Lind, of Calabasas, who also stars in "The Young and the Restless."
The parade, hosted by Erik Estrada and Laura McKenzie, will air Dec. 12 on the Hallmark Channel and later be syndicated across the globe.
Produced by Hollywood's Santa Parade LLC and presented by the city and Associated Television International, the parade helps raise awareness for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, which will receive free public service announcements on the Hallmark Channel.
There were 16.7 million toys distributed to 7.2 million needy children last year, said Lt. Gen. Peter Osman, who is president and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
"They all need toys for Christmas" Osman said.
Children along the parade route lit up with glee at the cavalcade of Christmas attractions.
Finn White, 5, of Hollywood, took in the parade with his family as they leaned against the railings that lined the boulevard.
"Jingle bells, jingle bells," the boy said. "I like the elves. I like Santa. I like the snow. And I like presents."
Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti commented on the uniqueness of the Los Angeles holiday spectacle. Once dubbed the Santa Claus Lane Parade, it served as inspiration for Gene Autry's 1949 hit, "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)."
"This is great," said Garcetti, who represents Hollywood. "Four years ago, this parade was dead. I revived it because this was a tradition I experienced as a kid.
"This is one of the last free opportunities for families in Los Angeles during the holiday season."