Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Feliz Navi.......Nada!

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"

Just Look!:

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?


Margaret said...

Interesting, and the last picture did get me to visit the HCoC site to see what they think of Christmas. The only entries of Christmas are from 1932 and 1942, with the last achievement in 2005 in which all they did was, "...worked on legislation to create a Hollywood statistical area that would require the reporting of demographic data on the community." What a disappointment to visit Hollywood, especially on a tour bus, and not see festive holiday lights! You're the perfect person to spearhead the "Bring The Holidays Back to Hollywood" campaign, Felix!


1932 The Santa Claus Lane Parade was first sponsored by the Chamber. In 1978, the parade was given a new look, renamed the Hollywood Christmas Parade and grew to national prominence as the nation’s largest celebrity parade with national television distribution for the first time.
1942 To aid the World War II effort, the Chamber donated its metal Santa Claus Lane Christmas Tree decorations to Uncle Sam. Each tree decoration was 16 ft. tall with 160 lights and weighed 750 pounds.

FelixInHollywood said...

Thank you Margaret. But unfortunately, my experience with the Chamber is that unless you walk in the office with lots of money in your hands or a big development plan (that will knock down history) that will bring lots of construction and density (and financial kickbacks to the Chamber, I'm guessing)to town, they ain't really interested.

The first time I visited their offices, there were lots of historical framed photos around the place. One was a shot I'd seen before that was taken at Marion Davies beach house. A group shot that had Every star in town in it. It was labeled 1928. I looked at the woman who was getting money out of me to join and said, "You know, Valentino looks remarkable here considering he'd been dead for 2 years!"

On my next visit, the picture was nowhere to be found.

Margaret said...

Ha! Considering their last lackluster (paper pushing) "Hall of Fame" entry for 2005, (do the math...almost 8 years), and the lack of heart, I'd say their "underground tunnels" are filled with muck.

Couldn't you get other organizations to fund holiday lights-for all faiths? Or is the town run by the Chamber? Or "others?"

You KNOW what I'm sayin'.

FelixInHollywood said...

Well, you've got the Chamber, the L.A. City Council, and all of the Real Estate Developers who funnel under-the-table kickbacks and other shenanigans to them. This terrible troika's latest obsession is to usher in the 'Manhattanization' of Hollywood (changing, bending or ignoring rules)complete with *major* increased density and ways to overlook building height restriction.

There is a developers plan on the books right now to build to buildings on either side of the Capitol Records Tower (which btw is about 13 stories tall). These proposed buildings are both close to 50 stories!

The good news is that individuals like me, and organizations like Hollywood Heritage and LA Conservancy are becoming mighty fed up and starting to make a considerable amount of noise.

Lets hope we are loud enough to be heard through canyons of glass and steel towers.

Margaret said...

Undoubtedly, there are much larger forces, high-rollers, who have aspirations to build empires in Hollywood(land). The more I read about behind-the-scenes workings, the more I am convinced that pieces of history, like the ones you, and your wonderful friends aspire to preserve, will indeed dissipate. In their place will be, as you said, "canyons of glass and steel towers." Filled with..?
WWWDD? Well, join them, of course, and turn it into a "Monarch" cartoon!
I literally feel ill when I read about former movie stars' cottages being destroyed, or sets of old TV shows burned on purpose. I'd like to fantasize there are warehouses full of memorabilia, hidden away somewhere...
Keep organizing, and I wish I had the funds to make it happen with one quick signature. Another one of my fantasies...