By Mary O’KEEFE
The 36th Annual Montrose Glendale Christmas Parade is Saturday. The parade is a tradition that began in 1950 with a simple horse ride, and walk, down Honolulu Avenue by actor Dennis Morgan and some of his movie star friends including Jackie Cooper and Jack Carson who served as grand marshals.
When Morgan moved away, the parade ended. It was resurrected as the parade it is now by “Mr. Montrose” Frank Roberts. The parade has maintained its hometown feel, hosting Boy and Girl Scout troops, local organizations, marching bands and non-profit groups that roll down Honolulu Avenue alongside local officials.
The parade is televised and has gone digital with parade viewing on the web. For the past seven years, Rick Dinger, owner of CV Insurance, and Jane Kane of Podley Properties, have offered parade commentary.
“When we started, Rick and I Googled a lot,” Kane said.
Dinger and Kane wrote the scripts for each parade entry that stopped at the viewing stage, but now the entrants supply their own scripts.
Neither commentator really needs a script, however, as both Kane and Dinger were born and raised in the community.
“If Rick doesn’t know the [parade entry], then I do,” Kane said. “We grew up in the area.”
Prior to the parade, the two sit down and discuss who will announce what.
“We always know that Rick will introduce St. Francis, his alma mater, and I will introduce mine, La Cañada High School,” Kane said.
Both love the community tradition and look forward to it every year – rain or wind not withstanding.
“This is the kick-off to the Christmas season in Crescenta Valley,” Dinger said. “Those who [participate] in the parade and those who watch it keep coming back. I came here as a kid and now I bring my family.”
Dinger said the parade has remained the same over the years spotlighting community first. Then there are the special events that are pure Montrose, like Santa flying overhead in a helicopter and wolves brought from Shadowland Foundation.
Dinger said another important part of the parade is the volunteers.
“Each year they keep bringing in new waves of volunteers,” Dinger said.
It takes hundreds of volunteers to organize the parade and this year the one in charge is Cheryl Davis.
“The Christmas Parade is only a few days away and the entire Montrose Christmas Parade Association Team is as busy as Santa’s elves,” Davis said. “I have participated in the parade a few times, but this is my first time behind the scenes. As a rookie parade coordinator, I am very fortunate to have the former coordinator, Steve Pierce, and the entire parade association team there to help and guide me.”
Davis added the Glendale police, fire, city clerk’s office and other city personnel have been very patient going through organizing permits and logistics.
Without the support of the city of Glendale, both financially and services, the parade would not be possible, she said.
“The Community Services and Parks Dept. makes a [commitment] to the parade with the largest piece of the support coming from Glendale police,” said Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
He added the city supports the long-standing parade tradition because it brings families and the community together.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the kids, families, Santa and fun from the other side of the parade,” Davis said. “I hope to see [everyone] at the parade on Saturday.”
The Montrose-Glendale Christmas Parade begins at 6:10 p.m. and stretches along Honolulu Avenue from the 2200 block through the 2500 block. Honolulu Avenue will be closed to through traffic at La Crescenta Avenue east to Verdugo Road.