Despite blustery temperatures hovering in the mid-50s -- or perhaps because of them -- thousands of spectators in hats, scarves and mittens lined the sidewalks of Hollywood and Sunset boulevards Sunday night to loudly blow horns and cheer on the 73rd annual Hollywood Christmas Parade.
“If it were warm, it wouldn’t be as special,” Angie Hesse, 28, a recent transplant from Idaho to Marina del Rey, said of the event, during which Santa Claus traditionally makes one of his earliest annual Southland appearances.
“This is a way to celebrate L.A. in a different way. The weather makes you want to cuddle up with someone you love and enjoy the season.”
Said Tim Weeder, 45, who recently moved here from Florida: “It marks the beginning of the Christmas season; it’s goodbye turkey, and hello Christmas.”
This being Hollywood, of course, Santa wasn’t the only celebrity on hand to ring in the holiday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca rode by wearing a white cowboy hat on a snow-drenched float covered with Christmas carolers.
Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, waved happily to the crowd while seated in the back of a car next to his daughter, who an announcer mistook for his wife.
And, apparently unrecognized by most of the crowd, which lined sidewalks all along the route, “American Idol” star William Hung -- who landed a record deal earlier this year after being booted off the show -- smiled but didn’t sing.
There also were the usual high school marching bands hailing from states such as Colorado, Florida, Montana and Ohio.
Colorful floats represented a variety of entities, from the Bob Hope Hollywood USO to Six Flags Magic Mountain.
And flag girls marching the 3.2-mile route in bare-shouldered uniforms seemed to barely notice the cold.
“I love the mixture of talents,” said Bernie Sabillo, 45, of Culver City. “The weather is clear and it’s crisp.”
Martin Townsend, 80, of Hollywood said that he’d come mainly to see the marching band from USC, where he graduated in 1950.
“I like the drums and the excitement,” said Townsend, sporting a Trojan hat.
In fact, he said, that was the point.
“I think these parades are fantastic,” Townsend said. “They’re exciting, and I never really tire of them, especially the one in Hollywood. They say this kind of parade is old-fashioned, but parades are never old-fashioned -- it’s the excitement of something like this that keeps me alive.”