Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Hollywood Christmas Parade is Ho-Ho-Ho-ver

(Flickr pic by Actor_Photog.)

I never attended the Hollywood Christmas Parade -- actually, I avoided the whole area every year, which made for a Sunday night traffic mess in the area. But apparently I was a part of the problem -- the dwindling interest in the long-running (75 years!) parade has finally caught up to it.

Yup, as the Los Angeles Times reports, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Hollywood Chamber is Commerce, is no more:

Begun in 1928 to draw Los Angeles residents into Hollywood shops and stores, the parade had struggled in recent years to attract celebrity participants and a national TV audience. Fees from broadcast advertising helped finance the $1 million event.

The parade had been on the verge of being canceled several times in the past, officials revealed Wednesday.

"We struggled for 10 years to keep it alive. We were always holding out hope," said chamber President Leron Gubler.

Starting in 1998, the chamber labored to hammer out annual television contracts that would promise celebrities the exposure they were seeking while producing advertising dollars to cover parade and telecast costs...

Longtime parade producer Johnny Grant, a former radio personality who now serves as Hollywood's honorary mayor and the head of its Walk of Fame, said he was heartbroken.

"When that last float went down the street last year, half my life went with it," he said. "But L.A.'s changing. America's changing. The public has many more entertainment platforms now."

Initially, when the event was known as the Santa Claus Lane Parade, "people were happy with Sheriff (Eugene) Biscailuz and the police chief in the parade," and movie studios were happy to send actors and actresses under contract to ride in it, said Grant — who rode in the parade in the 1950s as a radio personality and produced it between 1978 and 1998.

The parade was the focus of cowboy actor Gene Autry's hit song "Here Comes Santa Claus," and it annually drew the likes of such stars as Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart.

That changed when old-guard stars began fading away and Hollywood's new breed of celebrity took hold.

KTLA aired the parade for the past three years.

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