LOS ANGELES — The 84th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade features more than 100 celebrities, 54 characters and novelties, 18 giant balloons, six equestrian units and five floats. The full, two-hour parade will air this Friday on the CW Network, beginning at 8 p.m. PT/ET.
“I think it’s very pretty and I love the balloons,” said Janita Hayes, a young attendee from Whittier, Calif. “My favorite balloon is The Grinch. The marching bands are good. The floats are good too. My favorite celebrity here is Bella and the Bulldogs. I’m so glad this is my first time coming to this parade. I didn’t make it last year.”
Thousands of people lined the streets of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard to watch the parade in-person. The weather cooperated during this year’s taping, which took place on Sunday, Nov. 29. Temperatures ranged between 60 degrees at the start of the parade to about 50 degrees at the end. Last year, rain dampened the parade with many attendees leaving early. Not the case this year.
“I love this parade because not only are people on the streets having a great time,” said actress Kate Linder from The Young and the Restless. “It’s the start of the holiday season for me. But also, it supports Toys for Tots. Because of this parade, a lot of the children that wouldn’t normally have toys are going to have toys this year.”
Magicians Penn and Teller were this year’s grand marshals. However, Oscar de la Hoya was the favorite celebrity among attendees I spoke with.
“I love everything from the beginning to end,” said Abraham Montufar, an attendee from Van Nuys, Calif. “We waiting for Santa. I’ve been coming seven years and I always have a great time with my family. They enjoy with me too.
Many of the stars from the CW Network were apart of this year’s parade. That includes Brett Dier and Ivonne Coll from Jane the Virgin along with Pete Gardner and Gabrielle Ruiz from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Both shows air on Monday nights.
“I am extremely excited,” said actress Ivonne Coll from the hit CW sitcom, Jane the Virgin. “Why? Because I’ve always wanted to be in this parade. I never thought I’d be here and here I am. It’s a great gift from God. Gina was the one who won that Golden Globe. She’s so well-deserving, a well-educated, extremely talented young woman. She makes us look good.”
I asked Coll what viewers can expect to see on upcoming episodes of the TV show.
“You’re going to see my character, Alba, finally achieving her American dream. You’re going to see Rogelio’s father give us a surprise. More about the romance between Jane and Rafael and Michael.”
The 501st Legion is new in this year’s parade. They are an all-volunteer organization with the mission of spreading the love of Star Wars. They even brought a couple of R2-D2 robot characters to the parade.
I spoke with Erik Estrada and Laura McKenzie on the red carpet and asked what they enjoy about hosting the television broadcast.
“Being up there with this guy,” McKenzie answered. “The excitement and the joy of the people. Because we have a really good view of the parade. We get to see the parade, too.”
Larger-than-life balloons were the favorites among the kids lining the parade route. The Grinch, Scooby Doo, Gumby and The Cat in the Hat made up four of 18 giant balloons featured this year.
“I’m super excited,” said actress Hadley Belle Miller from The Peanuts Movie. “This is the first parade that I’ve ever been in. It’s a great one so it’s awesome to be here. My perfect Christmas is hanging out with my family and eating cookies and watching old Christmas movies.”
There were five floats in this year’s parade. The Nebuta Float made its Hollywood debut for 2015. It was hand painted and constructed with Japanese paper and contains more than 3,000 LED lights.
“It was cold, but it was cheerful and Christmasy and fun,” said Vanessa Martinez from Montebello, Calif. “It was very nice. I like how all of the bands played Christmas music. The military is my favorite part. My husband is in the military. The balloons and Star Wars are second.”
Returning this year is the Air Force Mini-Jet Team. It’s a group of all-volunteer sergeants and airmen.
“This is so exciting,” said musician Meghan Shanley. “I mean you’re in Hollywood and I get to perform a song that I wrote. This is it’s debut tonight. Everything is just amazing. It’s called ‘If I Could Have You This Christmas.’ My perfect Christmas includes pajamas, my couch, my family, lots of food and Hallmark movies all day long.”
As a reminder, the full, two-hour parade will air this Friday on the CW Network, beginning at 8 p.m. PT/ET. That’s KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles and WKBD Channel 50 in Detroit.