Hollywood Kicks Off the Season
By Valerie Milano
Hollywood Today (Hollywood, CA) 11/29/12 - “It’s such a great tradition in Hollywood,” Mantegna said.”I was humbled to be asked to do this.” Grand Marshall Joe Mantegna began the parade in a vintage auto. The event, a tradition that began in 1928, helps to raise awareness for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, which began in 1947 and has grown to include over 700 locations for toy drop-offs for needy children.
Holiday lights and glittering streets, thousands of revelers and plenty of Christmas cheer were among the delights at the 81st Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade this past Sunday evening on Hollywood Boulevard, Vine Street and Sunset Blvd.
Cirque du Soleil provided the pre-show entertainment before the parade consisting of 6 floats and 14 huge cartoon balloons floated high overhead. Additionally there were 52 novelty cars and various acts, 21 marching bands from around the country, equestrian units and, naturally, celebs.
The valet parking was free for the celebs and guests at Sycamore and Franklin, if you could get to it that is. The streets in Hollywood closed down around the perimeters of the parade route around 3pm on Sunday making it very difficult for commuters and parade goers. The new venue for press check in and green rooms was L. Ron Hubbard’s The Author Services with many of the staff milling about giving tours of the beautiful building, especially the 4th floor library where Santa, the Marines and VIP’s were dining on prime rib overlooking the Boulevard. There was also a room on the main floor for all the volunteers. T’shirts of the different group names were given to each.
Fabio Conti of Fabiolus, (6270 West Sunset), sponsored the food for the volunteers telling Hollywood Today “This is an annual holiday event is an example how Hollywood is coming together as community.” Fabio is very generous to provide sustenance to many Hollywood organizations and just happens to be one of my favorite people. The award winning pizzas and pastas are not to be missed, the ambiance is romantic, private parking or valet, and if you can’t stay and dine in, there is take-out service available.
I was told by one of the Author Services staff that all Entertainment will be at the beginning of the parade in an effort to “keep it flowing”. Sadly, this was not the case. The tradition of my family and friends is to hang out in front of the Hollywood institution, The Cat and Fiddle, (located at 6530 Sunset Blvd.). From our vantage we bore witness to quite a few pauses and delays.
The building was built in the 1920’s and along with the neighboring buildings housed studio wardrobes and certain parts of “Casablanca” were filmed right here. Kim Gardener, a London bassist during the British Invasion, landed stateside in New Orleans to record with George Harrison and Jackie Lomax when he met his future wife and eventually became a part of Hollywood area history.
Grand Marshall Mantegna was joined along the parade route by Lou Ferrigno, Louis Gossett Jr., the cast of “Glee”, “Days of Our Lives” and “Criminal Minds”.
Steve Moyer the publicity firm that handles the parade told us “This year’s Hollywood Christmas Parade Benefiting Marine Toys for Tots was a tremendous success. The parade will air nationally on The Hallmark Channel on December 10th and on the Hallmark Movie Channel on Decembers 21st. Locally in Los Angeles, the parade will air on KTLA (Channel 5) on December 14th. To learn more about it, please visit the website, www.thehollywoodchristmasparade.com, hosted by Erik Estrada and Laura McKenzie.”
Mantegna summed his participation this year by saying, ““It means a great deal to me to be a part of this fine American tradition.”