For over 40 years, the foothills’ community has gathered along Honolulu Avenue to welcome the Christmas Parade.
By Charly SHELTON
It’s that time of year again, time to scout out Honolulu Avenue for the best possible seat, then wait for Santa to buzz the town in a chopper. That’s right – it’s time for the Montrose Christmas Parade.
“It is the official kickoff, I believe, of the holiday season,” said Parade Coordinator Cheryl Davis. “A couple of people have told me that it’s not Christmas until the Christmas parade.”
The annual event, now in its 41st year, has its roots back farther than 41 years, though. In the early 1950s, local resident and MGM film star Dennis Morgan started the parade that featured local groups – Boy Scout troops, church groups and the like – and his celebrity friends riding on horses, trotting down Honolulu in an afternoon parade to celebrate the season. When Morgan moved away, the parade came to an end and the concept of a Christmas parade in Montrose lay dormant until local resident and Montrose Shopping Park business owner Frank Roberts decided to revive it in 1976. He thought of it as a way to attract shoppers to his little town around the Christmas season. Over the years, the parade has grown, and this year more than 120 groups from all over the Crescenta Valley and Glendale will march down Honolulu Avenue to delight the thousands of guests who line the parade route, waving at their friends and neighbors.
“We have a lot of returning groups, which is really nice to see,” Davis said. “We have more groups [participating] than we had last year. We have a couple of new groups, with more still coming in. I know there are over 700 [Boy and Girl] Scouts and there’s still more [signing up].”
The parade will also feature former Dodger baseball player Ken Landreaux as a special sports celebrity guest, in addition to the local groups.
“And I think the focus really is on the youth and the Scouts, and the bands and local organizations. It has really grown to be a family tradition,” Davis said. “This is the 41st annual parade, and I think it’s a really nice event, especially considering it’s all put on by volunteers. It is amazing to me that it’s all volunteers who do this.”
The parade will take place next Saturday, Dec. 2, beginning at 6:10 p.m. with Santa Claus’ annual flyby over Montrose in the Glendale Police Dept.’s helicopter.
There is still time for sponsors to support this hometown tradition. For more information, visit MontroseChristmasParade.com.