MONTROSE — Preparations are being made for the 30th Annual Montrose Christmas Parade, which is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, along Honolulu Avenue.
This year not only will the parade feature legendary screen star Mickey Rooney as grand marshal, but a strong supporting cast — singer, performer and wife Jan Rooney — will share the honors with her husband.
"Jan and I are very honored to be grand marshals," Rooney said in a telephone interview with the Valley Sun Wednesday morning.
The actor, who is now 86 years old, made his film debut when he was 4 in "Not To Be Trusted" and he continues to entertain.
"We just returned from the U.K.," Jan Rooney said.
The Rooneys perform a live stage show titled, "Let's Put On A Show" where they celebrate Mickey's long and amazing career in the film industry. The show tours throughout the United States, and most recently in the United Kingdom. He is also waiting the release of his most recent film, "Night at the Museum" also starring Ben Stiller and Dick Van Dyke, which will be in theaters on Dec. 20. Neither of the Rooneys have slowed down and don't plan to anytime soon.
"[Performing] is what keeps Mickey young," his wife said.
The Rooneys will be honored at the parade because of this year's theme centering on "old fashioned" small-town traditions. According to John Drayman, president of the Montrose Shopping Park Association, it was these traditions that prompted him to contact the couple.
According to Drayman, the parade officials wanted to honor the event's homegrown past. The parade was originated by MGM star and foothill resident Dennis Morgan. This made Mickey a perfect choice, keeping legends of the film industry as part of the parade.
"Oh, I remember Dennis, in fact they have been playing a lot of his movies recently on television," Jan said when told of Morgan's early involvement with the parade. "I can still see his angelic face."
Mickey was pleased to learn that veterans of the armed forces will be given stong support during the event. "I am a veteran of the second World War," he said, adding that he thinks it's appropriate that veterans are honored. Drayman has requested any members of the military that have recently returned to the area to contact the shopping park office at 249-2499.
In keeping with that theme, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1614 of La Crescenta has teamed with Operation-Gratitude in its effort to send gift boxes to troops overseas. They are collecting letters that show the country's appreciation for the armed forces service men and women. VFW members are asking anyone who would like to write a letter to bring it to the Montrose Christmas Parade. They will collect them as they march down the parade route.
The parade will also continue its tradition of community by having local marching bands from schools including Rosemont Middle School and the St. Francis High School Varsity Drumline, under the direction of Tye Gaddis. There will also be local students and groups including those that are now training to run the Los Angeles Marathon, the Crescenta Valley Students Run LA. The group of about 45 are from La Cañada and Crescenta Valley schools.
Also participating will be representatives of Foothills Relay For Life. It is the first time they will join the parade; they will have a PT Cruiser decorated in Relay colors of purple and silver and will precede a group of cancer survivors, people living with cancer, their families and friends. Participants truly represent the community by having members from La Cañada, La Crescenta, Montrose, North Glendale, Tujunga and Sunland.
The parade will see more horses than ever before and, of course, a visit from Santa.
Where else can you support the troops, students, schools, community organizations, see Santa and get a glimpse of movie legend Mickey Rooney?