By Mary O’KEEFE
The Montrose Glendale Christmas Parade is just around the corner – on Dec. 6 – and all the volunteers who make the parade happen are busy getting ready for the annual event.
It takes hundreds of volunteers to make the parade the hometown celebration it has been for 38 years, from those who keep the parade entries moving in the right order to drivers and banner carriers – all perform integral roles.
A couple who has kept the parade rolling, and entertaining, for years will again be found in front of the cameras.
For about seven years, Jane Kane and Rick Dinger have been commentators for the Montrose Glendale Christmas Parade. The opportunity to moderate the area’s biggest event came about after a lull in the filming of the parade.
“Years ago, the parade stopped being televised,” Kane said. But then the parade committee decided they wanted to televise it again.
“I was very involved in the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce and [a friend] Audri Ferguson said they were going to start televising the parade again but they didn’t have anyone to do the [commentary],” Kane said.
Ferguson asked Kane, who jumped at the chance. She knew she would need a partner and recommended Dinger.
Over the years the pair has announced thousands of organizations and children’s groups as they marched down the Honolulu Avenue parade route. Each year they get a script with some information on the participants.
When they first began doing commentary, they were given a little information on the organizations but then would do some research to gain additional knowledge. Kane and Dinger are both very active in the community so they were familiar with many of the parade participants and loved sharing stories with the public.
“It’s fun,” Dinger said of the parade. “It is one of the few things that you can do that doesn’t cost any money. It is down home Americana. Everyone is excited and cheer as kids go by. And with Santa flying overhead you can see the [excitement] in the kids’ eyes.”
Each year Santa starts the parade by flying over the route in a helicopter, waving to the crowd. He then lands and gets back to Honolulu in time to bring the parade to a close, riding on top of a Glendale fire engine.
Last year another commentary couple was brought onto Honolulu Avenue – Leila and Vince Bell. They were added further east on the route to announce the organizations and groups for parade watchers who couldn’t hear Kane and Dinger. This year they are being moved further west before Dinger and Kane.
“People at the beginning [of the route] knew what was going on but those at the end of the route didn’t know who the groups were,” Leila said.
She got the commentary job after joking that she and husband Vince would take over for Kane and Dinger after they retired.
“Cheryl [Davis, parade coordinator] asked if I really wanted to do it. I said yes,” Leila recalled. “I told Vince … he said you got to be kidding.”
But their onscreen banter worked well last year and they were asked back again this year.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “Vince and I were in the parade when we were kids and now we see kids doing the same things [we did].”
A new film crew will be taking on the duties of recording the parade this year. Students from Clark Magnet High School, led by cinematography instructor Matt Stroup with additional support from Electromotive, will be filming the event. Electromotive will be handling all the parade’s electric and sound needs.
Rain or wind, the parade will go on. Dinger said the weather is never too severe but when there is rain or if it is too cold crowds are fewer.
“They miss out on all the fun,” he said of those who leave.
Dinger and Kane sit in their booth on Honolulu at Market Street without a break for the entirety of the parade – about three hours.
“Last year it was cold … probably the coldest it has [ever] been,” Kane said. But the cold – as long as it’s not too cold – adds to the holiday spirit.
The parade is scheduled to begin at 6:10 p.m. along the 2200-2500 blocks of Honolulu Avenue in Montrose. It will be webcast and broadcast live on television. Viewers can tune to Charter channel 15 and ATT/Uverse channel 99. A link to the webcast will be posted on montrosechristmasparade.com on Dec. 4.