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Vintage photos show LA all dressed up for the holidays

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Today’s parades and light shows just aren’t what they used to be

Hollywood Boulevard,
1950: Hollywood Boulevard illuminated with holiday lights.
Photos courtesy Los Angeles Public Library

It’s hard not to get a little nostalgic around the holidays. With every year, the carols get a bit more familiar and that old string of lights across your neighbor’s roof loses another bulb.

But one can always look back on days gone by—days when “Mele Kalikimaka” was a new hit single and residents across Los Angeles took Christmas decorations to new heights.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some images of holiday revelry in decades past. May they keep you warm on a cool, 55-degree December night.


Santa at May Company building, North Hollywood, 1964
1964: A giant Santa greets shoppers at the May Company’s North Hollywood location.
Christmas Tree Lane, 1961
1961: Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane lit up for the holidays.
Christmas in July
1960: Granada Hills residents celebrate Christmas in July.
Santa made of tumbleweeds, 1959
1959: An 18-foot tall Santa made from tumbleweeds sits out front of a Panorama City residence.
UFO Santa display
1958: A UFO-themed Christmas display.
Compton Boulevard Christmas decorations
1954: Christmas decorations along Compton Boulevard.
Candy Cane Lane
1953: Lights at Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills.
Grauman’s Christmas decorations
1953: Grauman’s Chinese dressed up for the holidays.
Las Posadas Pershing Square
1951: Las Posadas performers join skaters at the Pershing Square ice rink.
Hollywood parade
1945: Santa Claus Lane Parade (now the Hollywood Christmas Parade).
Christmas parade Hollywood
1940: A rocket ship in the Santa Claus Lane Parade.
Boyle Heights Christmas House
1937: Boyle Heights “Christmas House.”
Brand Boulevard lights
1937: Brand Boulevard in Glendale.
Huntington Beach Christmas lights
1935: Lights along Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.
Claudette Colbert wreath
1932: Screen icon Claudette Colbert posing with a wreath adorned with her image.