Friday, December 06, 2019

Very Merry Christmas Parade, Part 1

Today's photos are the first in a series of great images from a vintage Disneyland Christmas parade. These were all photo prints from the Dream Team of Irene, Bruce, and James. Many of the photos that the Dream Team gave me are from the mid-1990's, but these appear to be older, in my opinion. I think they are from the mid-1980's, or maybe even a little older, but they're undated, so... it's just a guess. 

I generally gripe if I find a group of photos from a parade, but these are exceptionally nice, and full of fun details; they're among my favorite parade pix! Since there was just a random stack of photo prints, I've had to guess at the order, and am sure I've made many mistakes - not that it will make a big difference.

Here we are, at the very start of the parade! Doesn't Main Street look awesome! Note that the Main Street Cinema is still showing non-Disney silent films ("William S. Hart"). The sign on the float says that this is the "Very Merry Christmas Parade", which debuted in 1977. Could this be the '77? The man to the left (sitting on the curb) with the white jacket has some wicked sideburns.

Mickey and Minnie! You can't ask for two bigger stars. Mickey's throwing us a little salute, while Minnie shows her pantaloons. She was sort of the Miley Cyrus of her day.

Gee, Snow White sure looks pretty. The Fairest in the Land, one might even say. Fun detail - the child's face, perfectly framed by the notch in the table - right edge, about halfway down.

You'd think that the Old Hag would stay away from a Christmas parade, but even she is in a holiday mood. Hey, free apples! Behind her are the Seven Dwarfs.

There's Dopey, wearing an unusual hat...

... he was obviously the inspiration for "Oola", Jabba the Hutt's slave dancer from "Return of the Jedi".

Chip and Dale have been studying at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, and have mastered candy cane-based dishes. Try the "Candy Canes Au Gratin", or "Beef With Candy Canes", they are both c'est magnifique.

You can't have Christmas without a Christmas tree. I believe that they use artificial trees these days, but 30 years ago I'm sure it was the genuine article.

Many thanks to Irene, Bruce, and James! There will be three more posts featuring pictures from this wonderful parade. Stay tuned.

A note for GDB friends: Irene wrote to me and gave me permission to share this news with you; she is an 18-year survivor of breast cancer, but she found out that the cancer has returned. In a few weeks she will be starting chemotherapy, as well as a new form of gene therapy. It's all very scary, but I want to stay positive and send lots of love and good thoughts her way.

It goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway - Irene, you have the support of the whole GDB family, and we are all pulling for you to beat this cancer and get healthy again.


Nanook said...

Now I think I'm truly in the Xmas spirit.

Irene - a positive attitude is often the best medicine - that, and of course all our good thoughts.

JC Shannon said...

I would say these are from the early 80s, judging by the hair and giant bells.
These are great shots of the parade. A little snow would be nice though, I'll send you some of ours.
Irene, please know that I am there for you, and that I know you can beat this again.

Andrew said...

Is this about the largest the trees on Main St. ever were? I hope Dopey doesn't trip on his hat!

Thanks for the nice pictures, Irene (and DT), and I'll be praying for your therapy to go well.

Chuck said...

I think I remember reading somewhere that they started showing Steamboat Wille at the Main Street Cinema during Mickey's 50th birthday celebration in 1978, so this would have to after that. Based on the hair and all the brown clothing, I'd put this between '78 and '82.

In the background of the second photo, there's a kid on his dad's shoulders holding a good-sized stuffed Mickey. I have one just like it from a '79 visit to WDW.

Another fun detail in the third photo - the pervert taking a photo of the backside of Snow White's cape.

I always suspected Dopey was a Twi'lek. That lekku is a dead giveaway. Disney was doing synergy before the Lucasfilm merger; heck, they were apparently doing it before George Lucas was even born!

Irene, I'll be praying for you. And I mean that. You can beat this!

Chuck said...

Good point, Andrew! That would put this no later than Christmas 1980 since the trees were replaced in October of 1981.

TokyoMagic! said...

As Chuck had noted, the trees on Main St. were replaced prior to Christmas of '81. Also, the Seven Dwarfs costumes were redesigned in '81 and the ones shown are prior to their redesigning. But I think I can narrow the year that these were taken, down to 1977 or 1978. The "Very Merry Christmas Parade" ran in 1977, 1978 and 1979. (By 1980, "Fantasy On Parade" had returned to the park for the Christmas season.) I don't think these were taken in 1979, because I saw the parade that year and Mickey didn't ride on the Post Office Float with Minnie, he rode alone on top of a giant drum and his costume was also different. He wore a top hat and tails, as seen here: The Very Merry Christmas Parade - 1979 So that would narrow the pics down to 1977 or 1978. Now if Chuck's memory is correct, about reading that "Steamboat Willie" wasn't shown at the Main St. Cinema until 1978, then that would make these pics from that year!

Irene, I am so sorry to hear the bad news. However, you beat it once, so you can beat it again! I am sending only positive thoughts your way, for a full and speedy recovery!

K. Martinez said...

Thanks as always for your wonderful Disneyland pictures, Irene, Bruce and James! I'm thrilled that there are three more parts to this series as I love Christmas at Disneyland.

Irene, you've given us so much joy as part of the GDB family through your generosity and fun comments. I send lots of love your way and positive thoughts for you to beat this.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major and The Dream Team, thank you for these fun pictures! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

Irene, I'm sending you a great big hug and keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! We're all here for you!


DrGoat said...

I'll add my thanks for these wonderful pics Major. Good crowd, as Rodney Dangerfield would say. Love the little girl with the Mickey doll in the second pic backround.
Irene, sending Sonoran Desert healing thoughts your way. Like TM said, you can beat it again. No doubt about it.

zach said...

Irene, I'm so sorry to hear! You will be in my thoughts and prayers for sure. You beat it before; you can do it again!

The Christmas decorations over the street are reminiscent of downtown San Jose in the fifties. Much more understated than today's DL.

I'm not a big parade guy but I like these! They're great for people watching, too.

Thanks, Major


Alonzo P Hawk said...

All good thoughts and prayers go out to you during this fight. Your "GDB" family is behind you and wish you a very speedy recovery!

JG said...

Thanks to Major and the Dream Team for the fine parade pictures. I'm not a parade fan, I use them as an opportunity to ride the Haunted Mansion or something, but these are a cut above. I almost seem to remember the giant ribbon candy that the chipmunks are standing beside.

I agree with Chuck and Tokyo about the timing, I remember watching Steamboat Willie in the theater as a youngster (first time I saw the cartoon) and my youth visits ended in 1978, I would put these in 1977-78 definitely.

Irene, my prayers will join with those of the earlier posters; health, long life and good cheer to be with you, in the holiday and the years to come.


Anonymous said...

Major, you are right about the tree being genuine years ago. Prior to placing on Main Street, it would be set up in the back area behind Hills Bros. By that I mean that the tree was augmented by inserting additional branches into its trunk to give the fullest look possible. So in a sense it wasn't just one tree but really the product of at least two. It would be fully decorated and then overnight moved into position. It took at least a week to construct and it was interesting to watch its progress. Of course guests could see the top portion of the tree as well.

Irene...we are all pulling for you. You are part of our family.


Major Pepperidge said...

Thanks everybody for the lovely words of support for Irene!

Nanook, yes, these “Very Merry Christmas” parade pix really helped wash away the Grinchiness!

Jonathan, were giant bells a 1980’s thing? ;-) Ha ha, I’ll bet you have plenty of snow to spare. We’ve had some beautiful chilly rain, and the mountains nearby had a dusting a snow for a few days, anyway.

Andrew, great observation about the trees! How come I didn’t think of that??

Chuck, I love it, thank you for that bit of Main Street Cinema trivia, I would have never known that. I thought that the fashions in these photos felt a little less wild (and ugly) than some of those late-70’s looks, but it really is so hard to say. Cool that you still have your large stuffed Mickey from ’79! And is that man a pervert, or an opportunist?

Chuck, so great, between you and Andrew we’re really narrowing down the date of this parade!

TokyoMagic!, man, you guys are so full of great information. I probably never really paid attention to the 7 dwarf redesigns, and it’s cool to get your own personal knowledge about Mickey not riding on the Post Office float in 1979. I’m liking the 1978 theory!

K. Martinez, I love Christmas at Disneyland, but I love VINTAGE Christmas at Disneyland 50 times more!

Lou and Sue, I was wondering if Lou had any photos from this parade!

DrGoat, at first I thought you meant that Rodney Dangerfield would have said, “Love the little girl with the Mickey doll in the second pic background”. I’m kind of slow.

dzacher, do you live in the San Jose area? For a while all three of my siblings lived there, now only my younger brother, who is in Campbell.

Alonzo, thanks

JG, I’m the same way with parades, though I am often with a date (or other people) who insist on watching the parade, so I wind up being stuck. I’m happy with the 1977-78 estimate for these, that makes them earlier than I even imagined.

Melissa said...

I've learned so much Disney history from this post, I'm gonna need one of those Dopey/Oola hats to keep my head from busting open.

I love a Disney parade, bit the Christmas parade is extra-special-doubleplusgood. (Even though last time I saw it in person I had walking pneumonia and the CM's couldn't get me out of the park because of the parade crowds. But it was still magical.)

Irene, I'm coming up on my fifteen-year anniversary of kicking ovarian cancer in the butt, and I've got all my fingers and toes crossed that you'll do the same this time.

zach said...

Major, I did until Sept 1st and will soon live in the Sacramento area. I did live in Campbell for awhile but didn't know anyone named 'Pepperidge' ;-)


Chuck said...

I found a couple of references online stating the 1978 date for Steamboat Willie's premiere at the MSC here and here. Although the second one is in a thread that starts as a discussion of the MK's MSC, the posters' (often very inaccurate) memories shift back and forth between DL and the MK. The poster who seemed to have authoritative dates for when films ran is "vonpluto," about 3/5 of the way down the page.

I know for a fact I saw Steamboat Willie in the MK's MSC in '79, and it's reasonable to assume that both theaters changed their film rotation at the same time.

I'll keep looking for a reference in a brick-and-mortar, er, I mean pulp-and-ink book to back that up.

Irene said...

Thank you everyone for your good wishes, thoughts and prayers. They mean a lot to me!!!

Good observations on these parade photos and narrowing the dates down. I had no idea any of the photos that Bruce had were this old!