×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

With Buzz Aldrin as Grand Marshal, Hollywood Christmas Parade Hopes to Regain Glory

Sixty-seven years ago, Gene Autry was riding down Santa Claus Lane when he was inspired to write “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Today, his tune is still a Christmas mainstay, and the parade where it all began strives to be one, too.

The Hollywood Christmas Parade — which was called the Santa Claus Lane Parade in Autry’s time — has seen an ebb and flow in popularity since the glory days of Autry and Roy Rogers. Now in its 82nd year, the parade’s organizers say they’re aiming for another heyday. With Buzz Aldrin as this year’s grand marshal, a laundry list of performers that includes Stevie Wonder, William Shatner and Leann Rimes, and a goal set to break the Guinness record for the longest red carpet, producers at Associated Television Intl. want to earn back the parade’s reputation for the spectacular.

“In the ’40s and ’50s, with folks like Cary Grant, it was a very prestigious event,” said Jim Romanovich, prexy of worldwide media for ATI, who took over production of the parade five years ago. “It lost a little bit of its luster in the ’80s and ’90s, but I’m happy to say that it is that sort of event once again.”

ATI’s strategy for reviving the Christmas Parade is to bring it back to the basics. In recent years, the parade teamed up with retail centers like the Grove and Universal CityWalk, splitting producers’ attention and efforts between pre-parade tree-lighting ceremonies and the actual parade.

“But this year, we wanted everything to be about the parade,” Romanovich said. “Just one night, one huge spectacular and the largest Christmas parade in the world.”

Last year’s event drew 1 million people along the roughly three-mile route down Hollywood Boulevard, and organizers hope this year will see as at least as many. Those who can’t make it out to the parade route Dec. 1 will have the chance to catch it at home; the Hallmark Channel will air the event Dec. 11, before KTLA-Los Angeles televises it locally Dec. 20. After that, up to 350 stations will run the tape of the parade in syndication during the holiday season.

American Forces Network will broadcast the event to military troops across the globe — particularly fitting this year, with Aldrin at the head of a parade that benefits Marine Toys for Tots and features a special salute to disabled American veterans.

Studios like Disney (involved this year to promote the DVD release of “The Lone Ranger”) and Universal, who will have “Despicable Me 2” minions riding in a car, get involved in the fanfare each year. But Romanovich said he especially values the participation of local businesses and the city of Hollywood, for which the parade offers a big boost in consumerism.

“A lot of people look to Hollywood as a fantasy,” he said. “We want it to be the best it can be, so when people visit for the parade, they see what they think it’s all about. Show them two hours of magic, and we’ve done our job.”

The Hollywood Christmas Parade starts at 5 p.m. December 1 at the corner of Hollywood and Highland Boulevards.

Pictured: Comedian Joe E. Brown was the first grand marshal of the Santa Claus Lane Parade in 1932.

More Scene

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Charlize Theron speaks at the GEANCO

    Charlize Theron Talks 'White Privilege,' Growing Up During Apartheid in South Africa

    Charlize Theron, during an onstage discussion with her “Gringo” costar David Oyelowo about philanthropy at Thursday’s annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO, said she was a beneficiary of “white privilege” while growing up in Apartheid-torn South Africa. “I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege,” Theron said [...]

  • Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya

    ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Revival Team on Living Up to the Series’ Legacy

    The 2019 revival of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” centers around the Carnival of Doom, a place that star Jeremy Ray Taylor (“It Chapter Two”) describes as “beautiful on the outside, but…in the middle of it, there are definitely dark secrets. Variety caught up with the young star during a carnival-themed celebration at Row DTLA [...]

  • Charlize Theron'The Addams Family' film premiere,

    Charlize Theron Speaks Immigration, Diversity in ‘The Addams Family’

    They’re creepy, they’re kooky, and they’re an allegory for immigration in America.  Charlize Theron discussed the changing face of the nuclear family and her animated film, “The Addams Family,” with Variety at the movie’s recent premiere at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles. “When you think of [the Addams] being around since the sixties, [...]

  • Emma Stone attends the Los Angeles

    Emma Stone Talks 'Cruella' Transformation, New 'Zombieland' Sequel

    Despite inevitable comparisons to Glenn Close’s iconic turn as Cruella de Vil in 1996’s “101 Dalmatians,” Emma Stone teased that her take on the infamous villain in the upcoming “Cruella” movie will be very distinctive. “It comes long before her story,” Stone told Variety at the premiere of “Zombieland: Double Tap” at the Regency Village [...]

  • Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the 2019

    Gwyneth Paltrow Honored at amfAR Gala

    Gwyneth Paltrow received one of this year’s courage awards at amfAR’s annual gala on Thursday night in Los Angeles. Paltrow’s longtime friends Dan Bucatinsky and Don Roos presented her with the award. “I didn’t prepare anything because I don’t think I really believe in thank you speeches, but I did want to thank amfAR for this,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content