Hollywood Santa Parade…

Hollywood Santa Parade still sparkles at 80

 

About 10,000 people turned out Sunday for the 80th Hollywood Santa Parade. The event was canceled in March 2007 when the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce found it could no longer afford to produce the event. But the city of Los Angeles rode to the rescue and put on a renamed event last year that kept the tradition going. “This was something that I couldn’t in good conscience let die,” City Council President Eric Garcetti told The Times last year. “This parade is one of the last free things families can do.”

 

This year, organizers added a Winterfest street festival to the band-filled pageant.

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By Jean Merl
Los Angeles Times
December 1, 2008

 

Call it the parade that almost wasn’t.

 

When the annual Hollywood Santa Parade began shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday, it would have been hard to guess that the tradition dating back to 1928 had nearly faded into history a little more than a year ago.

 

The band-filled pageantry — which began 80 years ago as the Santa Claus Lane Parade and later was known as the Hollywood Christmas Parade — was canceled in March 2007, when its sponsor, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, found it could no longer afford to produce the event. It had cost $1 million in 2006 and had left the chamber with a $100,000 deficit.

 

But at the last minute, after months of lobbying by Hollywood holiday parade boosters, the city of Los Angeles rode to the rescue and put on a re-named event last year that kept the tradition going.

 

“This was something that I couldn’t in good conscience let die,” City Council President Eric Garcetti told The Times last year. “This parade is one of the last free things families can do.” (Unless, of course, they wanted to trade a curbside spot for a grandstand seat, which cost $35.)

 

This year, city officials partnered with Radio Disney and other sponsors to put on Winterfest, a street festival leading up to the parade.

 

The parade followed its familiar, U-shaped route along Hollywood and Sunset boulevards.

 

“I’m very happy to keep this great holiday tradition in Hollywood,” Councilman Tom LaBonge, one of the city’s most enthusiastic boosters, told City News Service.

 

“Long live the Hollywood Santa Parade,” LaBonge added.

 

Merl is a Times staff writer

jean.merl@latimes.com

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