The parade began in 1928 as a way to lure shoppers to Hollywood. In the 30’s and 40’s big stars would participate. It was the only time Bette Davis would get within a hundred yards of real people. In 1946, the parade inspired Gene Autry to write “Here Comes Santa Claus, Right Down Santa Clause Lane”.
Alas, the changing times have not been kind to the parade. The level of celebrities slipped even below Iron Eyes Cody. It was eventually discontinued.
But through the wonder of the Writers Guild strike it was back! In a fashion.
The guild sponsored a giant Solidarity Rally on Tuesday down Hollywood Blvd. Not only could I finally go to the parade, I was IN IT! Me and like 5,000 other people. Tons of folks I hadn’t seen in years. One writer said to me he saw so many people that he thought were dead.
Went with my partner David and my son Matt. We thought we were so cagey. Since parking had to be a nightmare in Hollywood, David suggested we drive to the Valley and take the subway in (Yes, we have a subway in LA. You have to drive ten miles to find it but it’s there.) Easy free parking, no muss, no fuss. Unfortunately, a gazillion other writers had the same idea. Every lot was full. It took forever to park.
But it was all worth it. No crazy people on the train. And the atmosphere was electric at the rally. Anybody who used to be somebody or hopes to be somebody was there. Most in red. A few in those “Tevye” caps to really give the feel of a Communist rally circa 1935.
Finding the stars was like playing “Where’s Waldo”. They were there but in amongst the writers, off spring of writers, the Health Care Workers (who unlike the writers actually chanted), CAA agents with trays of cookies, voice-over artists, Teamsters, guys handing out “Impeach Bush flyers”, crew members, hookers, sympathetic tourists, dogs, and of course that champion of labor – Spider Man.
Someone said they saw Debra Messing, I saw the hot blond from IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. And then a thrill. I not only saw, but met, and got my picture taken with Steve Hibbert. You may not recognize him but you’ve seen him and thrilled to him on screen. He played the “Gimp” in PULP FICTION. This goes on my wall along with my picture of me and Michael Dukakis.
As we all assembled, Alicia Keyes gave a concert. We had enough people for a mosh pit but there was more business at hand.
Later, once we had marched down Hollywood Blvd past such landmarks as the Kodak Theater and the Fredericks of Hollywood Museum of Bras there were speeches. I was so far back I had no idea who was speaking or what they said. But I agree with them, each and every one.
It must’ve taken a good hour to march from Ivar to the Grauman’s Chinese Theater but that’s still faster than driving. Along the way I chatted with Batman. He wasn’t carrying a sign but did agree to put a WGA decal on the back of the Batmobile.
In all my years in the guild -- through four strikes and the awards show where Josh Logan fell off the stage during a dance number -- I’ve never seen such unity, such spirit, such resolve. I was proud to be there, proud to be a member of the WGA. And enormously grateful to all the other unions, concerned citizens, and superheroes who joined us in support. All the writers are asking for is a fair deal, nothing more. And as this rally demonstrated, we’re not going to settle for anything less.
It was the best Santa Claus Lane Parade in twenty years.