Organizers hope this year’s Christmas parade will mark comeback

The Banning High School marching band performs during the Hollywood Christmas Parade Sunday, Nov 26, 2006, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.
The Banning High School marching band performs during the Hollywood Christmas Parade Sunday, Nov 26, 2006, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. AP Photo

Organizers are pulling out all the stops for Sunday's annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. They hope to put a new shine on the 81-year-old event that lost its luster and almost ended for good two years ago.

Parade chairman Michel Papadaki says "All My Children" star Susan Lucci is the grand marshal, in honor of her show’s decision to move its production back to L.A. from New York.

Unlike last year’s edition, Papadaki said, this parade will be recorded for broadcast on national television next month.

"I think the big thing this year is the new emphasis on bringing the parade back to where it used to be in the past," Papadaki said. "We’ve struggled a bit in the last couple years, but this year is really the big comeback year, with the television, especially going out nationwide in prime time. It’s a prime-time event."

In addition to daytime drama, movie and sitcom stars, the parade will feature equestrian teams and marching bands.

A three-day carnival at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on Hollywood Boulevard ushers in the festivities. The parade begins Sunday at 6 p.m., in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

The Hollywood Christmas Parade will wind down the streets of Tinseltown. For the first time, the parade will also feature giant balloons.

Other celebrities who will ride in convertibles and wave to fans include Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr., Grammy-nominated singer Brian McKnight, comedian Shawn Wayans, former ``American Idol'' contestant Ace Young, talk show host Montel Williams, actors Lorenzo Lamas and Lee Majors, and athletes Lisa Leslie and Luc Robitaille.

The celebrity everyone is waiting for, of course, is Santa Claus, who will magically wave and light a Christmas tree as he passes the Winter Wonderland attraction, publicist Steve Moyer said.

The parade will include about 100 celebrities, 14 bands, eight equestrian units and eight giant balloons, including one that looks like The Grinch and another that looks like The Cat in The Hat, Moyer said.

The parade will follow a 2.5-mile U-shaped route, with the starting point at Hollywood Boulevard and Orange Avenue, near the Hollywood & Highland Center.

The procession will head east on Hollywood Boulevard, south on Vine Street, west on Sunset Boulevard and north on Orange Avenue.

Tens of thousands of fans are expected along the route. Those willing to pay $35 can sit on bleacher seats.

For the first time in its history, the parade will be a two-hour prime time special on national network television -- though it will not be broadcast live.

KPCC Wire Services contributed to this report.

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