[Quick Note: Due to an unusually long car trip to see family over the weekend, my chronic back injury has fully flared up -- and is, in fact, more full of flare than Jennifer Aniston in Office Space -- but in the wake of the Beg-a-Thon, we have many people to thank, and I'll be writing more about that as soon as the drugs kick in.]
When I was a kid, the annual Hollywood Christmas Death March was called "the Santa Claus Lane Parade," and it was as low tech and quaint as as a hand-carved hobbyhorse from some tourist trap in Vermont. The city spruced up the boulevard with lights and decorations, but the event itself consisted primarily of high school marching bands; modest, DIY floats that lived their shabby lives in the shadow of the Rose Parade and had a real Oh Who Honestly Gives a Crap? feel to them; and Grand Marshals who -- while admittedly more recognizable than the local newscasters and kiddie TV show hosts who invariably handled such duties in smaller media markets -- were solidly So What? style celebrities, in the Joe E. Brown, Tony Danza, Susan Lucci mold (this year we're getting Marie Osmond). But hey...it was our Macy's parade, a cherished local tradition, and if you were a child growing up in Southern California -- where there is seldom any change in arboreal set dressing; the trees remain stubbornly green, the thermometer hovers steadily in the mid-to-high 70s -- you looked forward to this day as the official start of the Holiday Season.
But it didn't make money, so the Chamber of Commerce decided to kill it (although I give them credit for being the only local Republicans who can actually organize to get something done, even if it does involve the homicide of a child's dream). But Disney has a major presence on Hollywood Boulevard, thanks to their flagship theater, the El Capitan, and they smelled a nice cross-promotional marketing opportunity, so they've stepped in and under their aegis the charmingly rough-hewn and amateur feel of years past has been replaced by the soulless, sub-contracted style of false, mandated cheer one one often finds at a State Fair. Along with some of the most disturbing inflatable characters in holiday parade history. They're the official barrage balloons of the War on Christmas™.
Anyway, I'm sure you guys can come up with better captions, so have at it in comments.