Wednesday, December 12, 2012
In 1928, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce came up with a brilliant idea to drive up shopping traffic along their big commercial corridor of Hollywood Blvd. A Christmas Parade!!!
So they got America's Sweetheart to do a little advance press and Viola! Hollywood Blvd. magically became Santa Claus Lane.
Decorations festooned the corridor and crowds gathered for what, as it turned out, wasn't much of a parade.
That first year, aside from the lovely decorations, the 'parade' consisted of what you see above, one sleigh pulled by a couple of union reindeers from the Screen Reindeers Guild and the loot in the sleigh was a little known starlet named Jeanette Loff and.......Santa Claus.
Well Santa Claus was the star of this show, and he delivered the shoppers, and so the Santa Claus Lane Parade became an annual tradition. Santa's appearance was always the climax of the parade that sent the crowds into paroxysms of glee. It grew every year until it included big-named stars by the score. And there is the famous story of Cowboy Star Gene Autry riding in the parade just in front of Santa in 1946. After a couple of blocks of hearing children shrieking "Here Comes Santa Claus! Here Comes Santa Claus", Autry gets a notion and, a new Holiday Carol is born.
So the parade is only one night but for almost a month each year, Hollywood residents and visitors alike have been treated to a sweet and magical "Santa Claus Lane"
No matter how seedy and downtrodden Hollywood ultimately became, the old girl still got tarted up and stirred a little sparkle. By the mid 1980s, when Hollywood and the Boulevard were little more than an open air drug bazaar, and looked like Beirut on a rough day, from Thanksgiving on at least, there was still a little shiny-shiny going on:
At the beginning of the new century, the word was: Hollywood is experiencing a rebirth! And Santa Claus Lane jumped on board tying together Holidays and the Cinema!:
So by 2012, you must be thinking, it's got to be STUPENDOUS! Well, brother, would you ever be wrong. I took this picture today from the northeast corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga looking west and, as you can see, zilch!
It could be any ol' day of the year, but certainly not smack in the middle of the Holiday Shopping Season! Why even the sky looks like it's going to cry.
So Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce, what are you doing with aaaaallll that money you charge folks to be members, that you can't string up a few damn lights and a strand or two of tinsel? Huh?