'Merry Christmas' Starts Early With Disney Parades


After unwrapping gifts and welcoming relatives, viewers who turn to the small screen for their holiday cheer will find a variety of Christmas-themed programs today.

For early risers, ABC has "Walt Disney World's Very Merry Christmas Parade," a two-hour telecast starting at 7 a.m. on Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42. Hosted by Joan Lunden and Alan Thicke, the program features a host of Disney characters taking part in parades along the streets of Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

At 9 a.m., a pair of programs focus on the religious aspect of the holiday. "The Hope of Christmas," an hourlong NBC special airing on Channels 4, 36 and 39, presents services from across the country, the Soviet Union and East Germany. Meanwhile, "Christmas at Washington Cathedral" covers a celebration of Mass from the nation's capital on KCAL Channel 9 and Channel 69 in San Diego.

Back on the parade route, KTLA repeats November's Hollywood Christmas Parade at 10 a.m. (5), while KTTV follows the 44th annual Yuletide parade in South Gate at noon (11).

Viewers with a preference for traditional sounds of the season can switch to public television throughout the day.

Atop that list of musical telecasts is "Bernstein in East Berlin," a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Leonard Bernstein. The 90-minute special begins at noon (50)(15)(24), with KCET airing it at 8 p.m. (28).

Other seasonal specials include KCAL's annual showing of "The Nativity," with Placido Domingo and the late Grace Kelly, at noon (9), and "A Child's Christmas in Wales" at 4 p.m. (28).

On the movie front, there's a choice at 3 p.m. between "The Homecoming--A Christmas Story," the 1971 pilot for "The Waltons" starring Patricia Neal and Richard Thomas on (2), and a truncated two-hour version of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" on (4). Unedited screenings of the 1946 James Stewart classic can be seen at 1:30 p.m. (56); 9 p.m. (cable's Disney Channel and Lifetime), and 9:30 p.m. on cable's AMC and WGN.

"The Sound of Music," the Oscar-winning Rogers and Hammerstein musical with Julie Andrews about the Von Trapp family, returns at 8 p.m. (4)(36)(39).

Sports plays a prominent role as well on today's TV schedule.

A college football double-header on ABC opens with the Blue/Gray All-Star game at 9 a.m., followed by the pairing of Hawaii (8-2-1) and Michigan State (7-4) in the Aloha Bowl from Honolulu at 12:30 p.m. (7)(3)(10)(42).

Then kicking off at 7 a.m. and running until 11 p.m., cable's SportsChannel carries edited broadcasts of six Notre Dame football games from this season, including the former No. 1-ranked team's match-up against USC (11 a.m. and 9 p.m.).

Of interest to local fans is a 12-hour Prime Ticket marathon of football highlights from USC-UCLA contests of the past decade airing between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.

In the National Football League's final regular-season game, the Minnesota Vikings play host to the Cincinnati Bengals on "Monday Night Football" at 6 p.m. (7)(3)(10)(42).

And on the basketball court, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks square off down South in the Omni at 12:30 p.m. (2)(8).

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