Preparations are being made for the 31st annual Montrose Christmas Parade. Girl and Boy Scout troops are finding their favorite walking shoes, Christmas decorations are being taped onto all shapes and sizes of vehicles and warm winter blankets and lawn chairs are at the ready.
Over the years the parade has become a tradition that celebrates the holidays and the small town community spirit.
This year will have a Disney theme with Donald Duck as the grand marshal. Donald has a history with Montrose, according to Montrose Parade Association’s Dana Banks, local resident and former owner of Anderson’s Pet Shop, Clarence “Ducky” Nash was the original voice of Donald Duck and used to entertain local children with his voices and puppets at the pet shop.
According to records, he first voiced Donald Duck in the early 1930s. He quacked in several different languages including Japanese and Spanish. Nash sold his pet store in 1957 but continued to voice Donald for many years. Honoring Nash goes along with the parade’s tradition of remembering the past while celebrating the future.
The parade was created one afternoon in the 1950’s by resident and MGM musical star Dennis Morgan as he marched down Honolulu Avenue during the day.
It then became more of an official parade as Morgan invited old movie star friends like Jackie Cooper to join in the hometown parade. The community parade transformed into the present night time parade in 1976 with the leadership of local merchant Frank Roberts.
Now the traditional and new mix to form a small town parade that hearkens back to simpler times when families enjoyed time together and the most popular celebrity was Santa Claus.
“This year the Oscar Mayer [Wienermobile] will be back in the parade,” Banks said, after a lengthy hiatus.
Santa Claus will be making his traditional Montrose Parade visit via helicopter as he flies over head to begin the parade wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
Local vendors and politicians will join scout troops and school groups as they all march down the avenue.
The weather has always been a consideration with the parade. Years of heavy rain to mist to freezing cold and balmy heat waves have greeted the parade watchers and participants.
“The parade goes on rain or shine,” Banks said.
“The weather has always been the tough [factor],” said Dale Dawson, president of the Montrose Shopping Park, which is the second largest sponsor of the parade, following the city of Glendale.
Despite the weather uncertainty Dawson still looks forward to the event every year.
“I am always excited about the parade,” Dawson said.
The shopping park shops stay open until around 5 p.m., the parade begins at 6 p.m. but people will be lining Honolulu Avenue hours before to get that perfect section sidewalk or curb. Many restaurants in the shopping park stay open after the parade, Dawson said.