When Hollywood Boulevard Became Santa Claus Lane

When Hollywood Boulevard Became Santa Claus Lane

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Today, shopping malls hang garland, pipe in holiday tunes, and build showy reproductions of St. Nicholas' polar hideout, attracting customers to their privately owned concourses and encouraging the buying spirit. But before malls, holiday shoppers flocked to Los Angeles' downtown and suburban retail districts where shops and department stores lined publicly owned streets. To attract business, retailers in these districts banded together to transform these public spaces into flashy winter wonderlands.

Hollywood boasted one of the most elaborate Yuletide displays. Each November beginning in 1928, extravagant holiday decorations transformed a one-mile stretch of Hollywood Blvd. between Vine and La Brea into Santa Claus Lane.

The brainchild of businessman Harry Blaine and the Hollywood Boulevard Association, which promoted the thoroughfare as the "world's largest department store," Santa Claus Lane lured shoppers away from downtown's dominant Broadway retail district with winking lights, daily processions featuring a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and plentiful, brightly decorated Christmas trees.

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