The mariachis may have accented the Christmas Parade in East Los Angeles on Sunday, but the irreverent in Pasadena capped off their parody by tossing tortillas outside a bar.
And a million spectators gathered to see what magic the fantasy factory had come up with for the 58th installment of the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
While the 15th annual East Los Angeles Christmas Parade filled Whittier Boulevard with bands, colorfully costumed dancers and floats, the Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena was graced with the silly, the sexy and the downright gross.
The hourlong spoof of the San Gabriel Valley city’s Tournament of Roses Parade began shortly before noon under ominous skies and ended with the rowdy rain-soaked tortilla toss in front of the Loch Ness Monster Pub on Fair Oaks Avenue.
And everything about the “14th Pasadena Occasional Doo Dah Parade” was, in the words of one parade-goer, “so . . . so California.”
There was the ever-popular Snotty Scotty and the Hankies, an entourage of bagpipe blowers that served as the parade’s official band.
There was the Synchronized Briefcase Drill Team, a group of 16 pinstripe-suited lawyers and investment bankers marching in precision.
And, of course, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Drool Team, complete with meat hook, battery-powered saws, bags of fake blood and . . . well, never mind.
But what had the crowds laughing the hardest were two Zsa Zsa Gabor acts that parodied the celebrity’s encounter with a Beverly Hills police officer, and five (yes, five) entries that re-enacted the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
One, titled the “XXXon Val-do-dah-dez,” was a 70-foot-long makeshift oil tanker that rolled down the parade route as a dozen participants threw black water balloons at each other and at some of the crowd, estimated by police at 58,000.
“Oil droplets,” explained XXXon organizer Mike Kelly, a McDonnell Douglas aircraft engineer, who was wearing a black T-shirt with “cruder” emblazoned on the front.
Doo Dah enthusiasts also got their fair share of marching band and drill team spoofs: the Barbeque and Hibachi Marching Grill Team, the Keg Banger Spill Team, the Anti-Drill Team and the Flasher Drill Team.
“I love it,” said Woodland Hills resident Jeanie Stephenson, standing on the corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. “It’s just like Halloween, you know? People can just let all their fantasies come out.”
Then, approaching slowly from the west, was a wild contraption on wheels that had parts of mannequins stuck to it. Loud heavy metal music was coming from somewhere.
“What the hell is that?” someone yelled.
“Who cares?” Stephenson piped back.
But all the laughs didn’t mask the disappointed face of parade “Czar” Peter Apanel, who leaned against his powder blue ’62 Ford Galaxie and handed out tortillas to passers-by, telling them to toss them.
“It’s been real slow, both for participants and for watchers,” said the former public relations consultant who, two years ago, turned full-time parade organizer. “We had 108 entries this year. That’s 25 fewer than last year. I think a lot of groups wanted to watch the parade for a change.”
This year, there even was time for a bona fide wedding. Santa Ana residents Thea Wills and John Olsen, who met at last year’s Doo Dah Parade, exchanged vows just before the parade started, then marched to Pasadena’s Central Park, where they repeated their vows in front of a large wedding party. Who said Doo Dah spurned tradition?
In East Los Angeles, meanwhile, parade-goers were treated to charros, elaborately outfitted Mexican cowboys and even a camel.
A crowd estimated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at 170,000 watched the parade, which began at 1 p.m. on Whittier Boulevard at Eastern Avenue, proceeded east on Atlantic Boulevard and then north to 4th Street, where it ended about two hours later.
“Everything went pretty well,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Pavlich, who reported that the crowd stood four and five deep in spots along the parade route.
A 4-year-old boy lost at the parade was picked up by his father about 3:30 p.m. at the East Los Angeles sheriff’s station, he added.
Grand marshals for the parade, sponsored by the East Los Angeles Jaycees, were actors Eddie Albert and Jorge Rivero and actress Catherine Bach.
In Hollywood, a seemingly endless succession of entertainers rode vintage autos down Hollywood Boulevard in what organizers called “the biggest celebrity parade in the world.”
Los Angeles police assigned 1,000 officers to control the crowds cheering on Steve Allen, Rita Coolidge, Jose Feliciano, Pat Morita, Rick Dees, Ann Jillian and Grand Marshal Sammy Davis Jr. and his wife, Altovise.
The Keystone Kops were also there, as were the Phantom of the Opera, Woody Woodpecker and swashbuckling swordsmen.
But the real star of the show for the thousands of youngsters along the Hollywood Boulevard parade route was Santa Claus, who arrived just before 8 p.m. in a red sleigh sprinkled with glitter during a howling snow storm befitting the film capital’s capacity for illusion.