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Holiday Parade Full of Potential, Given a Few Right Turns

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Monday, December 15, 2008, at 03:16PM
Coca-Cola Floats Ed Fuentes

Coca-Cola branded floats travel dark streets around the Los Angeles Convention Center in the first "Live Positively Holiday Parade."

On Saturday evening, the first annual "Live Positively Holiday Parade" celebrated three cultures: Hispanic families, L.A. Live and Coca-Cola. It was corporate promotion, but full of neighborhood possibility.

Marching bands, Brazilian dancers and even a group of Japanese folk dancers joined dignitaries and a lineup of Coca-Cola branded floats in traveling the short route from Figueroa and Washington up to the entertainment complex.
The audience gathered into an even smaller area, enjoying the parade primarily from just the blocks around L.A. Live.

The beginning of the route was more "Festival of Darkness" than "Caravana Navidena Coca-Cola.” The trip up Figueroa from Patriotic Hall, just south of the 10 freeway, was poorly lit and tough to make out on a dark Saturday night.

The scene was much more lively around the grandstands and L.A. Live. Cameras at the complex gave the crowd close ups of the parade from the plaza's towers, showing off the bands and other marchers.

Those in the grandstands at 12th and Figueroa seemed to approve of the festivities.

"It's beautiful," says Martina Valencia, 5. "I like the way the lights are coming up the street."

Dignitaries participating included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilwoman Jan Perry, Councilman Ed Reyes, Los Angeles Dodger icon Tommy Lasorda and former Los Angeles Laker and current WNBA Sparks coach Michael Cooper.

The parade is an import from Mexico, where Coca-Cola has traveled the procession throughout the country for a decade. The Los Angeles running was its first time in the United States.

Standing along the route on Saturday, it was impossible to keep from imagining how the parade might grow in future years. The idea and operations where well-run, but this first year's route stands out as a weak link.

The densely-populated neighborhoods west of Downtown offer a more diverse Latin audience than any of the stops south of the border. If Coca-Cola and AEG wish to target Latino families, all they have to do is run the parade east into Downtown via a street like 7th or Pico. An event like this would help break the barrier of the 110 freeway and reconnect Downtown to its neighbors.

Since Saturday's parade was just as much promotion as festival, I will leave the final word to the best pitchman Downtown offers. Asked if he has any message for Downtown residents, Tommy Lasorda replied "Yes. Have a good holiday, root for the Dodgers... and drink Coca-Cola."

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