Along Hollywood Boulevard,
Sunset Boulevard & Vine Street,
annual holiday event began over 85 years ago (in 1928), and was originally
called "The Santa Claus Lane Parade." In fact, it
inspired singer Gene Autry to co-write
the song "Here Comes
Santa Claus" ("...right down Santa Claus Lane").
In 2018, the 87th annual parade was held, as always, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Sunday, November 25, 2018, at 5 PM.
But the parade has declined a lot from its heyday,
when it used to draw major Hollywood stars like Bob Hope and Charlton
Recent celebrity turnout has actually been rather pathetic, consisting mostly of newcomers, aging has-beens, and minor names.
For instance, this year the parade's Grand Marshal was Nancy O'Dell, of Entertainment Tonight.
And the biggest celebrities riding in the 2018 parade were the likes of Burt Ward (from TVs "Batman") and "Leave It to Beaver"'s Jerry Mathers, along with cast members from most of TVs daytime soap operas. (And Santa Claus, of course.)
There were somewhat bigger names performing on stage in front of Grauman's Chinese theatre before the parade (such as Jane Lynch, Donnie & Marie, and what's left of the Beach Boys), But those performances can only be seen by a relative few who happen to be seated near the stage, since most of those performers don't ride in the actual parade itself.
So, if you come to watch the parade in person, you're probably better off focusing on the parade's marching bands, equestrian units, giant balloons, and general festive atmosphere, all of which are bright and entertaining. But if you come strictly to see stars, you're likely to be disappointed.
And the show wasn't broadcast on TV locally until December 15, three weeks after the actual parade.
Last year (2017), the Grand Marshal was Dr. Oz.
Celebs riding in the 2017 parade included Lou Diamond Phillips ("La Bamba"), Burt Ward ('Robin' on TV's "Batman"), Jerry Mathers ("Leave It to Beaver"), and the cast of "Days of Our Lives".
Co-hosts for the 2016 show included Erik Estrada, Dean Cain, Montel Williams and Laura McKenzie (the same quartet who turned up for 2018).
Celebs riding in the parade included Lou Gossett Jr ("An Officer and a Gentleman"), Robert Wagner ("Hart to Hart"), the kids from the sitcoms "Black-ish" and "Fresh Off the Boat", Keeesha Sharp ("Lethal Weapon"), the casts of soaps "The Young and the Restless", "Days of Our Lives" and "The Bold & the Beautiful", and Mickey Mouse, plus some giant
balloons, marching bands, equestrian groups (such as the Clydesdales) and Santa!
Performers at the pre-parade concert (held
near the starting point) included Olivia, of course, plus Cyndi Lauper,
Kenny G, the Beach Boys, War, and two star bands made up of artists
from other rock bands (including Lisa Loeb, Mark McGrath, Tyler Glenn,
The parade was televised later, on the CW network on December 16 (Channel 5, here in L.A.)
The pre-parade concert (held near the
starting point of the parade) featured Clay Aiken, India.Arie,
Tyler Glenn Of Neon Trees, Daughtry, and Taylor Hicks, among others.
The Grand Marshal for 2014 was singer Stevie Wonder.
A concert held before the parade started included Stevie plus a Richie
Sambora, Taylor Dayne, Heart, Estelle, Jesse McCartney, Rita Wilson and
Earth, Wind & Fire.
Co-hosts included Erik Estrada, Dean Cain, Laura McKenzie, and Montel Williams.
Celebrities riding in the pararde, besides
Stevie Wonder and Richie Sambora, included L.A. Mayor Garceti, boxer
Oscar de la Hoya, actress Cristela Alonzo, actor Tommy Flanagan
('Chibs' on "Sons of Anarchy") Nancy Cartwright (the voice of 'Bart Simpson'), two cast members of "The Goldbergs" ('Barry' and 'Erica'), the three kids from 'Black-ish", the casts of the soaps "Days Of Our Luves" and "The Young and the Restless", young cast members from several Disney Channel & Nickelodeon shows, Lassie, and Santa (of course).
In 2013, the Grand Marshal was astronaut Buzz Aldren, the 2nd man to walk on the moon.
Celebrities in the pararde included "Rhoda" star Valerie Harper, "Leave It To Beaver" stars Jerry Mathers & Tony Dow, "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" star Melissa Joan Hart and hubby Joey Lawrence, three members of the cast of "The Neighbors", actors Ben Vereen & Ron Masak, and a lot of stars from soap operas and Disney Channel shows.
TV personalities Erik Estrada ("CHiPs") and Laura McKenzie ("Traveler") were the broadcast hosts of the parade, and actor Dean Cain ("Lois & Clark") hosted the music portion.
As for the celebrities riding in the 2012 parade, they had the star of "Eureka", 'Sheriff Carter' himself, Colin Ferguson, the alien family from "The Neighbors", all the ballet girls from "Bunheads", 'The Beav' from "Leave It to Beaver" (Jerry Mathers), 'Becky' and 'Jacob' from "Glee" (Lauren Potter & Josh Sussman), 'Chris' from "Everybody Hates Chris" (Tyrel Jackson Williams), Castle's mother from "Castle" (Susan Sullivan), TV's "The Hulk" (Lou Ferrigno), Star Trek's 'Sulu', (George Takei), 'Greg' from "Dharma & Greg' (and now on "Criminal Minds") Thomas Gibson, 'Jackson' from "Hannah Montana" (Jason Earles), Louis Gossett, Jr. ("An Officer & a Gentleman", "Roots"), Natasha Henstridge ("Species"), Candace Cameron Bure ('D.J.' on "Full House"),
Ron Masak ("Murder She Wrote"), plus a ton of young stars from various Disney
Channel shows and network soap operas like "The Young & the Restless" and "Days of Our Lives". (Not to mention Uggie The
Dog from "The Artist".)
The Grand Marshal for the 2011 parade was Marie Osmond.
Celebrities riding in the 2011 parade will included Lea Thompson ("Back to the Future", "Caroline in the City", "Switched at Birth"), Louis Gossett, Jr. ("An Officer and a Gentleman"), Tom Cavanagh ("Ed"), Joan van Ark ("Dallas", "Knot's Landing"), Quinton Aaron ("The Blind Side"), Vivica A. Fox ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Ted McGinley ("Married with Children", "Hope & Faith"), Sasha Pieterse ('Alison' on "Pretty Little Liars"), Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. ("America's Got Talent"), Jason Earles ('Jackson' on "Hannah Montana"), Kate Linder ("The Young & the Restless"), Montel Williams, Booboo Stewart ("Twilight"), Tiffany Thornton ("Sonny With a Chance"), La Toya Jackson, and NBA star Ron Artest (AKA Metta World Peace), plus lots of soap opera stars and young actors that the studios (especially Disney) want to get out there to be seen.
Other celebs riding in the parade included the legendary Dick Van Dyke, Louis Gossett Jr., Ione Skye ("Say Anything"), Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, Vivica A. Fox, The Tonight Show's Kevin Eubanks, Sara Ramirez ('Callie') & Sarah Drew ('April') from "Grey's Anatomy," Stephanie Powers ("Hart to Hart"), Corbin Bernsen ("Psych" and "L.A. Law"), Rico Rodriguez & Noland Gould (the boys from "Modern Family"), Iqbal Theba ('Principal Figgins' in "Glee"), Jason Earles ('Jackson' on "Hannah Montana"), Melody Thomas Scott ('Nikki' on "Days of Our Lives"), Susan Sullivan & Molly Quinn ("Castle"'s mother & daughter), Jimmy Bennett ('J.J.' on "No Ordinary Family"), Donna Mills ("Knot's Landing"), comic Rip Taylor, Atticus Shaffer ('Brick' on "The Middle"), and cast members from "Wizards of Waverly Place" (David DeLuise, Jake T. Austin & Maria Canals-Barrera) and "Sonny With a Chance" (Brandon Smith, Doug Brochu & Allisyn Ashley Arm).
Other celebs in 2009 included Lou Gossett Jr.
("An Officer & a Gentleman"), Cindy Williams
("Laverne & Shirley"), TV host Montel Williams,
Lee Majors ("The Six Million
Dollar Man"), "General Hospital" star Genie Francis,
"The Bold & the Beautiful"'s Lesley-Anne Down,
"The Young and the Restless" Kate Linder,
Kim Wayans & Shawn
Wayans, "CSI: Miami"'s Eva La Rue,
"The Vampire Diaries"' Katerina Graham,
Judge Mathis, actors Antonio Sabato, Jr.
and Lorenzo Lamas, "American
Idol"'s Ace Young, and many
The 2008 parade included actress
Shirley Jones (and hubby Marty
Ingels), the late David Carradine,
Demi Lovato ("Camp
Rock"), Hugh O'Brian, Fred Willard ("Everybody
Loves Raymond"), Lana
Wood, and cast members from "Twilight" and
"The Young & the Restless", among others, as
well as the usual great marching bands and equestrian units.
But the 76th annual parade almost didn't happen in 2007. Why?
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which ran the
parade up until 2007, decided to cancel the 2007 parade because it was losing money.
For a while, it appeared there would be no parade in 2007. But the parade
was saved at the last moment, when the L.A. City Council voted to sponsor
The show is now produced by a for-profit company called Hollywood Christmas Parade Television.
Since the Chamber of Commerce owned the name "The Hollywood Christmas Parade", the name of the 2007 parade was temporarily changed to "The Hollywood Santa Parade" (sort of a throwback to the early days when it was the "Santa Claus Lane Parade"), but otherwise it went on as usual, the Sunday after Thanksgiving (November 25, 2007), using the very same parade route as before.
Despite the last minute rescue, they still managed to round up a few stars for the event, although the overall star quotient for that year's parade did fall far short of most past years.
The Grand Marshal for the 2007 parade was Bob Barker ("The Price is Right"), and other celebs on hand included the Shawn & Marlon Wayans, Jamie Farr ('Klinger' on "M*A*S*H*"), Fred Willard ("Everybody Lives Raymond"), Melody Thomas Scott ('Nikki' on "The Young and the Restless"), Tony Plana (Betty's father on "Ugly Betty"), crazyman Rip Taylor, radio legend Casey Kasem, Rex Lee ('Lloyd' on "Entourage"), and "Eight is Enough" star Dick Van Patten. Although it was originally announced that the cast of "High School Musical" was going to participate in the parade, it turned out that just one cast member, Kaycee Stroh ('Martha Cox') actually showed up.
But a crowd of at least 125,000 turned out to watch.
The name was eventually changed back to The Hollywood Christmas Parade (in 2009), and it has been going strong ever since.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade isn't in the same league as Pasadena's spectacular Rose Parade (then again, what other parade is?), but it is still a large, festive affair with more than a dozen colorful marching bands, TV & radio celebrities riding in open antique convertibles, twenty glitzy floats, cartoon characters, equestrian units, and of course Santa Claus himself riding an 18-foot-high, 62-foot-long float in the grand finale.
For the star-struck, it should be pointed out that the parade is one of those rare opportunities when you're guaranteed to see actual movie & TV stars on the streets of Hollywood. In fact, it has been billed as "the largest celebrity parade in the world!" In their time, Mary Pickford, Natalie Wood, Eddie Cantor and the Three Stooges all rode in the parade. David Letterman was discovered by NBC after he helped broadcast the event on TV.
In 2006, as the parade marked its 75 Anniversary, TV's Regis Philbin ("Live With Regis & Kelly", "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"), who is also 75, was the "Diamond Jubilee Honorary Grand Marshal". The regular Grand Marshal was George Lopez ("The George Lopez Show"). Other parade participants & performers included singer Michael Bolton and fiance Nicolette Sheridan (from "Desperate Housewives"), David Boreanaz ("Angel", "Bones") Shawn & Marlon Wayans ("The Wayans Bros"), Casper Van Dien ("Starship Troopers"), Edward James Olmos ("Battlestar Galactica"), Marlee Matlin ("Children of a Lesser God"), Catherine Oxenberg ("Watch Over Me"), Hayden Panettiere (the cheerleader from "Heroes"), Hulk Hogan & his daughter Brooke Hogan, Joey Lawrence ("Dancing with the Stars"), Stephen Collins & Catherine Hicks ('the Camdens' from "7th Heaven"), Eric Braeden ('Victor' on "The Young & the Restless"), Malcolm David Kelley ('Walt' on "Lost"). Justin Hartley ('Green Arrow' on "Smallville"), and lots of TV sitcom stars and costumed cartoon characters.
In 2005, the Grand Marshal was L.A.'s new mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, the first elected official to be Grand Marshal in the Hollywood Christmas Parade's history . Celebrities riding in the 2005 parade included Mickey Rooney, Eartha Kitt, Kathy Griffin, Dick Van Patten, Baywatch's David Hasselhoff, Kevin Eubanks (bandleader on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"), Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith ('Mr. & Mrs. Forman' from "That 70's Show"), Mackenzie Rosman ('Ruthie' on "7th Heaven"), Richard Schiff ('Toby Ziegler' on "The West Wing"), Tony Orlando & Dawn, singer Romeo, Vivien Cardone ('Delia' on "Everwood"), Tyler Hilton ('Chris ' on "One Tree Hill"), Tyler Hoechlin ("Road to Perdition"), Camille Winbush ('Nessa' on "The Bernie Mac Show"), L.A. Clippers players, Disney characters, and of course, Santa Claus.
In 2004 the Grand Marshal was basketball great Magic Johnson. Other celebs that year included Brad Garrett ('Robert' in "Everybody Loves Raymond"), George Lopez, Eric Roberts ("Less Than Perfect"), Cindy Williams ("Laverne & Shirley"), Lorenzo Lamas, astronaut Buzz Aldren, and various cast members from the shows "Gilmore Girls", "That '70s Show", "Complete Savages", "My Wife & Kids", "Days of Our Lives", "The Young & the Restless" and "The Bold & the Beautiful". Plus costumed cartoon characters Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, The Simpsons, & Spider-Man.
In 2003, the Grand Marshal was the honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant (replacing governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declined an invitation to be the year's Grand Marshal); stars riding in the parade included Joe Mantegna ("Joan of Arcadia") Eric Roberts, Ruth Buzzi, Gene Barry, Lorenzo Lamas, Joanne Worley, Danny Bonaduce, Dick Van Patten, Tippi Hedren, Fred Willard, Judge Joe Brown and Laker James Worthy, along with L.A. Mayor James Hahn. The event also featured cast members from "The Bernie Mac Show," "Gilmore Girls," and "7th Heaven," "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper", "D.H.S." and "That '70s Show", among others.
The event is telecast in front of the new Kodak Theatre, and a stretch of Hollywood Boulevard is covered with red carpet for the start of the parade.
In 2002, due to NBC's new involvement, there were some top of the line celebs on hand (at least for the entertainment portions of their broadcast), including Destiny's Child, LeAnn Rimes, Carrot Top and David Copperfield. There will be a new "Back to the Future" float, a performance from the new Disney musical "Aladdin" and a stunt from the movie "XXX". Stars actually riding in the 2002 parade will include Grand Marshal Mickey Rooney, William Shatner (Star Trek's 'Captain Kirk'), Frankie Avalon, Jerry O'Connell ("Sliders"), singer Pat Boone, Ray Liotta ("Goodfellas", "John Q"), Robert Patrick ("Terminator II", "The X-Files"), Elvira ('Mistress of the Dark"), Mindy Sterling ("Austin Powers"), Leeza Gibbons ("Extra"), Lorenzo Lamas ("The Immortal"), Seth Peterson ("Providence"), Joe Mantegna ("Godfather III"), Natasha Henstridge, Kevin Eubanks ("The Tonight Show" bandleader), Danny Bonaduce ("The Other Half"), That 70's Show's Kurtwood Smith & Debra Jo Rupp, and more.
In 2001, the parade's Grand Marshal was actor Peter Fonda. Celebrities riding in the parade included Kathy Kinney ('Mimi' on "The Drew Carrey Show"), Florence Henderson ("The Brady Bunch"), Jack Klugman ("The Odd Couple," "Quincy"), Marion Ross ("Happy Days"), Melissa Gilbert ("Little House on the Prairie"), three stars of "The Parkers" cast (Mo'Nique, Countess Vaughn & Dorien Wilson), Michelle Trachtenberg ('Dawn' from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Nikki Cox ("Unhappily Ever After," "Nikki"), Robert Patrick ("The X-Files", "Terminator II"), Ed Begley Jr. ("Six Feet Under"), singer/actor Pat Boone, Seth Peterson ('Robbie' on "Providence'), Kevin Eubanks (the "Tonight Show" bandleader), Alan Rachins (Dharma's father on "Dharma & Greg"), LeVar Burton ("Star Trek: TNG"), Vicki Lewis ('Beth' on "NewsRadio"), Leeza Gibbons ("Extra!"), Lorenzo Lamas ("The Immortal"), Fyvush Finkel ("Picket Fences," "Boston Public"), Justin Berfield ('Reese' on "Malcolm in the Middle"), Christopher Titus ('Titus'), Antonio Sabato, Jr. ("Melrose Place"), and three stars of the new "Star Trek: Enterprise" show, Anthony Montgomery ('Ensign Mayweather'), Dominic Keating ('Lt. Malcolm Reed') and Jolene Blalock ("T'Pol"), wrestler "Chyna" and other WWF stars, plus musical groups Eden's Crush and All-4-One, numerous soap opera stars, assorted costumed characters such as Betty Boop and Sonic the Hedgehog and many more.
In 2000, the Grand Marshal duties were shared by youngster Frankie Muniz (star of TV's "Malcolm in the Middle") and veteran actor Dennis Hopper ("Easy Rider"). Three Hollywood legends were honored and rode in the parade: film legend Mickey Rooney, TV legend Sid Caesar and radio legend Casey Kasem. Other celebrities riding in the parade included Ed Begley Jr., Teri Garr, Natasha Henstridge, Joe Mantegna, Leeza Gibbons, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, singer Helen Reddy, Alfonso Ribeiro, Victoria Rowell ("Diagnosis Murder"), Fred Willard ("Best of Show"), John O'Hurley ("Seinfeld," "To Tell the Truth"), plus cast members of "Star Trek: Voyager," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "NYPD Blue" and many other shows. The Parade opened with a performance of the "Circle of Life" from The Lion King.
In 1999, Jessica Simpson met Nick Lachey at the Hollywood Christmas Parade and the two were soon married. The Grand Marshal of that 68th annual parade was actor Beau Bridges, and celebrities who rode in the parade include David Arquette, Julio Iglesias Jr., Edward James Olmos, David Hasselhoff, 98 Degrees, Mindy Sterling, Erik Estrada, Tia Carrere, Fabian, Leeza Gibbons, Donna Mills, Frankie Avalon and a host of cast members from TV shows like "Boy Meets World," "King of Queens," "NYPD Blue," "Beverly Hills 90210," "Walker: Texas Ranger" and "Just Shoot Me."
Other celebrities who have appeared in the parade in the last few years include:
Will Smith, Gregory Peck,
Tony Curtis, Roy Rogers
and Dale Evans, Betty
White, Rodney Dangerfield,
Tori Spelling, Walter Matthau,
Beau Bridges, Dom Deluise,
John Denver, Lou
Rawls, Ed Asner,
George Hamilton, David Carradine,
Englebert Humperdinck, Zsa Zsa Gabor,
and Ned Beatty.
The reserved grandstand bleachers are located along the prime area where the stars are interviewed for the live TV broadcast, but it's still difficult for spectators to hear the interviews (unless you bring along a portable TV or TV-band radio.) Nonetheless, these bleachers seats provide a fine view of the stars, and the marching bands perform at their best along this early section of the parade route, since they know they're on TV. (And if you're in the right spot in those bleachers, there's a chance that your face will be broadcast all over the world, too!)
So much for the good news. Now here is the bad news:
getting to and from the parade can be murder. Even as early as two hours
before the parade time, the Hollywood (101) Freeway backs up for a mile
before the Santa Monica exit, and surface streets in the area are a real
zoo. Trying to find a parking spot is even worse. I'm sure that many people
who arrive late end up spending the entire parade either stuck in a traffic
jam or looking for a place to park. It can be very frustrating. (The solution?
Come early. Or else take the subway.)
over one million people turn out each year to view the parade, so finding
a curbside viewing spot isn't easy. A lot of people are disappointed each
year. Even those who buy reserved grandstand seats are crammed into the
bleachers like sardines on very hard, uncomfortable bench seats, basically
unable to move during the three-hour wait. (The solution? Buy the reserved
seats, then bring along a seat cushion.)
This is a night time parade, and the weather in late November is often
quite chilly (at least by L.A. standards), with temperatures often falling
into the 50's or even the 40's. Exposed skin can become painfully chilled,
especially after hours of sitting motionless in a grandstand seat. (The
solution? Dress very warmly!)
· The Wait: the parade lasts for two hours, and you have to show up at least two hours in advance to have any chance of getting a viewing spot. So that means sitting cramped in the same spot, relatively motionless, for at least four hours, sometimes in bone-chilling cold. (The solution? Be patient, and be sure to stand up and stretch your legs every now and then...)
In short, trying to watch the parade in person can be a physically uncomfortable experience, even under the best of circumstances; be prepared for a long, tiring wait in the cold.
So is the parade worth all the trouble? Well, yes. I suppose everyone should see the parade in person at least once. But having said that, I might add that I'll be watching it on TV this year from the warm comfort of my living room...
Reserved seat tickets will be available by calling (866) PARADE1.
Parade Route: The parade takes place along a 2.5-mile, U-shaped route that includes Hollywood Boulevard, Vine Street, and Sunset Boulevard. It starts near the corner of Hollywood Blvd & Orange (in front of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre), then heads east on Hollywood Blvd to Vine Street, where it turns right (south) on Vine and goes south on Vine to Sunset Boulevard. It turns right (west) on Sunset, and marches back west on Sunset to Orange, ending up in front of Hollywood High School.
Parking: Parking may be available at the Hollywood & Highland parking structure (which is discounted with validation with a purchase from the center), and at two lots on either side of Hollywood Boulevard at 1632 and 1720 Las Palmas. Other public (paid) lots are available along the main streets in the area, such as Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, and Vine Street, as well as at Hollywood High. Rates vary. Traffic is unbearably congested in the area before and after the parade. All of the involved streets are sealed off. Almost all freeway traffic is funneled onto Santa Monica Boulevard, and a big traffic jam is already building by two hours before the parade time. If you come, arrive early. After the parade, my advice is to take minor surface streets away from the scene, and avoid the crowds trying to get back on the Hollywood Freeway.
One way to avoid the parking hassle is to take the new Metro subway. There are now subway stations at Hollywood & Highland as well as at Hollywood & Vine. So you can park far away from the traffic nightmare, ride underground to the heart of the parade route.
Admission Price: The parade is free, if you are willing to take your chances when it comes to finding curbside viewing spot. Tickets for reserved grandstand seating are available for $35 this year. The bleacher seats are set up near the start of the parade, just west of Hollywood & Highland, where the TV cameras are positioned. Phone (866) PARADE1 to reserve your tickets.
The parade takes place on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving. In
2009, the parade will be held on Sunday, November 29, at 6 PM. Be
sure to phone ahead to check the date for this year's parade. But the huge
crowds force you to arrive earlier. If you have reserved grandstand seats,
you must be in those seats an hour earlier. And if you do not have
reserved seats, then it would be advisable to show up much earlier, to
avoid traffic jams. If you have a reserved seat, I would suggest being
near the Santa Monica exit to the Hollywood Freeway by at least an hour
and forty five minutes early. If you do not have a reserved seat, then
be in Hollywood by at least three hours before the parade. And expect a
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