Don’t look for too many young pop stars at Sunday night’s Hollywood Christmas Parade as Grand Marshal Olivia Newton-John, 68, will be the youngest current or former big name in that role with ex-grand marshals Mickey Mouse, Larry King, Robert Wagner and Lou Gossett Jr. on hand and all in their 80s.
Grammy-winning singer Newton-John, perhaps best known for her starring role opposite John Travolta in the movie musical “Grease,” will be the grand marshal when the 85th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade makes its way through Tinseltown Sunday.
Newton-John will also perform during a pre-parade concert, which will begin at 5 p.m. and feature notables including Cyndi Lauper, Kenny G, Scotty McCreery, War and Eric Benet.
The parade itself will step off at 6 p.m. at Orange Street and Hollywood Boulevard, traveling on a U-shaped 3.2-mile route, heading east on Hollywood Boulevard, south on Vine Street and west on Sunset Boulevard back to Orange.
The parade will also feature four previous grand marshals.Mickey Mouse, who led the 1986 parade, will be joined on the route by dancers from the D23 Disney Fan Club. Larry King, grand marshal of the 2010 parade, will also return, along with 1994 grand marshal Lou Gossett Jr. and 1979 grand marshal Robert Wagner, who will be joined by his daughters Natasha, Courtney and Katie and his grandson Riley Lewis.
Other celebrities expected to take part include Lou Ferrigno; “Days of Our Lives” cast members Deidre Hall, Marci Miller, Martha Madison and Camila Banus; “The Bold and the Beautiful” cast members including John McCook, Alley Mills, Felisha Cooper, Darin Brooks, Kelly Kruger and Scott Clifton; Miles Brown and Marsai Martin of “Black-ish”; Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen of “Fresh Off the Boat”; comedian Bill Engval; and actors Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker and Jack Scalia.
Santa Claus will also make an appearance, along with a host of military representatives, including Lt. Gen. Pete Osman, president/CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
The parade will also feature 17 bands, 22 inflatable character balloons and a half-dozen equestrian units and floats.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade was technically first held in 1928, when it was called the “Santa Claus Lane Parade.” Comedian Joe E. Brown was the first grand marshal in 1932, a role later filled by luminaries such as Bob Hope, Gene Autry and Jimmy Stewart, among others.
Newton-John was chosen to lead the parade not only for her musical prowess — which includes four Grammys and a string of top-10 hits — but for her philanthropy.
She has been the Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Programme, is the co-founder of the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition and created National Tree Day in Australia.
A breast cancer survivor, Newton-John partnered with Austin Health to create the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, which opened in 2012 in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, a nonprofit medical research institute within the center, opened in 2014.
— City News Service
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