Yesterday I went to the Hollywood Santa Parade, which I guess is technically different than the Hollywood Christmas Parade, which died last year from hemorrhaging money.
I live about two blocks away from the parade route, and last year I came back from the grocery store and watched high school bands practicing on the little side streets of Fountain and found the whole thing pretty goddamn touching, but didn't go. Then they said that was the last year and I found myself stricken by a sense of loss and failure, which is funny. As though it wasn't worth going to in itself, but if it was my last chance to experience the parade all of a sudden it became critically important.
I went to the parade once before, when I was maybe seven or eight, with my family and my best friend's family. I don't really remember what I thought about it; I remember people shoving and a struggle to see and some confusion.
Anyway, I saw the signs this year and I meant to go and then I forgot, and then I remembered. The parade started at five; I worried about whether to show up early to get a seat and all that. I went to get a late lunch at RoRo's Chicken and I saw people already staking out seats.
So I drifted over there around 4:30; the parade was due to start at 5. There was a lot of space left, and I sat down on the street, and watched the 15 year olds next to me flirt and giggle. But then at 4:45 one of their parents showed up with a whole host of other adult/teenager/family friend types, and the thermos of hot chocolate came out and a six year old was sitting at the very end of their row of chairs, looking, mostly, extremely anxious about the whole thing.
Bob Avakian's Revolutionary party came along, handing out newspapers and selling t-shirts about how the Bush Administration was a terrorist organization and then there were the Jews For Jesus and then people selling candy canes and light up toys.
The Eckankar center was advertising clean bathrooms, and lending out chairs.
People kept running across the street, aka the parade route, and I found myself vaguely anxious about that. The six year old's mother brought him a piece of pizza; she was blowing on it to cool it down for him.
Things started happening. A whole troupe of fire department guys on motorcycles tricked out with lights and tinsel and with lovely ladies on the back came wheeling down the street. Then there was a procession of emergency vehicles, lights and sirens on. The Robocop car was one of them!
The families on either side of me were waving; I felt weird waving. In fact, I felt a little weird being there on my own, plunked down on the asphalt without so much as a blanket or a thermos. I guess maybe I should have bought a light up toy.
One of the six year old's relatives who was maybe 13 himself (although I am now too old to accurately measure age in young people) came over and told the six year old to stand up, that he wanted to see how tall he was. The six year old was reluctantly hauled up. Then the 13 year old took his seat. The six year old looked upset and said, "Give me back my seat." The 13 year old said, "What do you say?" The six year old added please, and was given back his seat.
There was Bob Barker! There were high school bands! There was the mayor, who may have been greeted by cheering up on Hollywood Blvd., which was the pulsating heart of the parade route, but not down on Sunset, almost at the end. I mean, there were a couple of cheers, but nothing so much. He was working the crowd; he shouted "Hollywood in the house!" and asked the cops what district they were from and mentioned the tragic recent death of a cop and then later he asked a family where they were from and shouted "Covina in the house!" There was Rocky Delgadillo. There was Fred Willard, which I was very excited about because I had him confused with David Leisure, who was Joe Isuzu. It is only just now that I learned my mistake, and I feel a little cheated.
Endless amounts of time passed between bands and celebrities. I got antsy. The Marine Corps band from Twentynine Palms played a medley of Christmas carols, including that one that goes peace on earth and mercy mild, and I got all choked up, and then I myself ran across the parade route and went home.