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Santa Claus Lane Parade History and Photos


Santa Claus Lane Parade

The chamber’s oldest and certainly most popular activity is the Santa Claus Lane Parade. In 1924, the retail merchant’s bureau, a division of the Chamber of Commerce, instituted a campaign for increasing the Christmas business for the merchants on Hollywood Boulevard. Street decorations, consisting of imitation fireplace chimneys, were placed on prominent corners. In addition, large papier-mâché Santa Claus heads, about 4 feet in length, and real Christmas trees were mounted on the ornamental light standards. This decoration was varied and bunting and overhead Christmas lights hung over the street. Thus, the name Santa Claus Lane was formally adopted. For years the property owners, headed by Col. Harry M Baine, and the merchants through the retail merchants bureau, and later Hollywood merchants Association, continued and enlarged the activity.


First Float

In 1928, Col. Baine, through the use of funds provided by the property owners, initiated a new Christmas activity, which was destined to become one of the outstanding features of the succeeding Christmas seasons. Making arrangements with the Los Angeles County Park Department for their care, he succeeded in acquiring a team of two live reindeer. These animals were stabled on Hollywood Boulevard at La Brea for the constant admiration of the community. For two years, during the month of December, they were driven down the Boulevard, pulling a sleigh on wheels and usually carrying, in addition to Santa Claus, a popular entertainment celebrity. The first movie star to travel down Santa Claus Lane. with Santa was Jeanette Loff, a Pathe player. A photo of the first sleigh and reindeer, in on the website.

For some unknown reason, Senate did not travel down Santa Claus Lane. in 1930. However, the practice was resumed in 1931 much to the delight of the Hollywood residents. Instead of using real reindeer pulled the sleigh the Otto K. Olesen Illuminating Co. mounted a sleigh and for model reindeer on a flat trailer, which was pulled with a truck. As the float made its way down Hollywood Boulevard, a machine sprayed artificial snowflakes over the float, thereby creating the illusion of a snowstorm.


First Parade

In 1932, the Otto Olesen Co. designed a new Santa Claus Christmas float, which had its debut when it appeared in the first Santa Claus Lane, Parade held on December 10, 1932. Sponsored by the Hollywood merchants Association, and witnessed by thousands of spectators, the parade started at Vine Street and traveled west on Hollywood Boulevard to La Brea Ave. In addition to the Santa Claus float the first parade consisted of a color guard, drum and bugle Corps, and marchers from American Legion Post 43.

The year 1932 also saw the installation of metal Christmas trees that lined Hollywood Boulevard. Each tree was 16 feet high, contained 160 lights and weighed 750 pounds.

Because of the overwhelming response to the first parade, the 19th 33 Parade was greatly expanded to include bands, motion picture personalities, equestrian teams, and city and County officials. Each night after the parade, until Christmas, Santa Claus and his float drove down Santa Claus Lane, accompanied by personalities such as Noah Berry, Rita LeRoy and Patricia Ellis.

During World War II, the parade was discontinued. To aid in the war effort, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce donated the metal Santa Claus Lane Christmas trees to Uncle Sam and replace them with large papier-mâché Santa Claus heads.


Parade Expanded

When the war was over in 1945, the parade was resumed on November 23 with a record crowd of onlookers. During the succeeding years, the Santa Claus Lane, Parade developed into one of the most spectacular parades in the country. With the core operation of the community, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and participating motion picture personalities, the parade has grown in size to include more than 300 separate entries. Marching bands, equestrian groups, entertainment celebrities, and others come from all over the country to participate in this world-renowned parade, which is viewed by thousands in person and by millions through the magic of television. 

The website has many photos of celebrities who have participated in the parade, including Jayne Mansfield, Danny Thomas, and Francis X. Bushman.


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