Hollywood's 91st Christmas Parade welcomes holiday season

The 91st anniversary edition of the Hollywood Christmas Parade moved through the streets of Tinseltown Sunday evening, another sign the holiday season has arrived.

Thousands of spectators lined up at the 3.2-mile, U-shaped route to watch more than 90 celebrities and VIPS, 14 pre-parade and parade performers, 10 bands, six four-story-high character balloons, three floats, 39 movie cars and eight novelty vehicles -- ending with an appearance from Santa Claus himself and his reindeer.

In all, some 5,000 participants participated in the parade, which supports Marine Toys for Tots.

The parade kicked off at 6 p.m. Sunday, starting at Orange Street and Hollywood Boulevard, before traveling east on Hollywood Boulevard to Vine Street, south on Vine Street to Sunset Boulevard and then west on Sunset, back to Orange.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Paris D. Davis, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in March — nearly 60 years after being nominated for his heroism during the Vietnam War — was the grand marshal.

"I am honored and very grateful to be chosen as Grand Marshal of the Hollywood Christmas Parade," Davis said shortly after the November announcement. "I am especially pleased that this wonderful annual tradition raises awareness of the important work that Marine Toys for Tots are doing to bring gifts and holiday cheer to those less fortunate.

"The parade also brings goodwill to people from all walks of life throughout the world. It's a good reminder about what America stands for, who we are, and all that we can accomplish when we come together."

Santa Claus appears at the 73rd Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on November 28, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The 84-year-old Davis, one of the first Black officers to serve in the Army's elite Green Berets, was recognized "for his daring rescue of two severely injured soldiers during an intense battle in the Vietnam War" on June 18, 1965.

He was twice nominated for the nation's highest award for military valor in action, but the paperwork was lost or misplaced both times — and he was awarded a Silver Star instead. His other honors include a Purple Heart, a Soldier's Medal and a Bronze Star.

Sunday's parade was co-hosted by actors Erik Estrada and Dean Cain along with media personalities Montel Williams, Laura McKenzie and Elizabeth Stanton.

Pre-parade entertainment included the Village People, pop-opera singer Anna Azerli and The Grinch. Parade performers will include the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and California Springs Rhythmic Gymnastics.

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass was among the celebrities and dignitaries participating, along with dancer-singer Paula Abdul, singer Dwight Yoakum, radio host Kerri Kasem, pop duo Aly & AJ and actors Chris Kattan, Craig Robinson, Ernie Hudson, Brandon Routh, Ming-Na Wen, Denise Richards and Tatyana Ali.

Local marching bands taking part included the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society Pipe and Drums; the Oaxaca Philharmonic Band of Los Angeles; the Golden Valley High School Band of San Clarita; the PAVA World Traditional Korean Band of Los Angeles; the Compton High School Band; and the Los Angeles Catholic Schools Band of Torrance.

The parade has been held every year since 1928, except from 1942 to 1944 due to World War II, and in 2020, when it was canceled because of the pandemic.

It was first held in 1928 under the name "Santa Claus Lane Parade." Comedian Joe E. Brown was the first grand marshal in 1932 — a role later filled by such luminaries as Bob Hope, Gene Autry, Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne.