Over the past 51 years, the annual Watts Christmas Parade has been seen by residents as a “cultural icon” by providing a safe place for families to bask in the Christmas Spirit.
This past weekend (December 8), the highly anticipated parade kicked off the holiday celebration in the South Los Angeles neighborhood, with LAPD Lieutenant Emada Tingirides as the Grand Marshal.
The parade was hosted by Paula Aliewine of the Edna Aliewine Foundation.
At 12 noon, in front of the Watts Labor Community Action Center, parade goers witnessed beautifully decorated sleighs driving down S. Central Avenue with a special appearance by Santa Claus himself. During the event Santa made members from the LAPD his honorary elves for the day, as they passed out candy to all the young boys and girls.
Santa’s sleigh is the 2011 brainchild of LAPD officer Ron Harrell, who oversees the department’s community safety partnership program and Robert Torrence of Maxine Waters EPC.
“We do this so the community can get to know the LAPD and interact with them at times other than being arrested or watching them arrest someone,” said Torrence.
“Most of all, so LAPD can get to know the people they serve and see them as human. I tell them all the time, ‘It’s hard to shoot someone when you know their name.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters also made an appearance during the parade, as she rode down Central Avenue waving and blowing kisses to all of the local residents.
Additionally, attendees were able to see LAPD and CSP soap box derby cars during the parade. Later, an award was given out to the car dressed up like an LAPD cruiser.
The parade ended at Markham Middle School on 103rd and Compton Blvd.
This event, like many of the other local celebrations that have taken place during the month of December, have reminded residents of the true reason for the season; which is giving back and spreading joy!