5:45 p.m. Update: The chairs have been lining the street for about an hour before they were supposed to, and nobody was enforcing that, especially in front of Rite-Aid. Charter Cable was setting up early at Chase Bank's parking lot and the grandstand bleacher in front of it. After police closed Second Street, the center dividers immediately filled with chairs and blankets and seat holders. People and dogs were staked out at outdoor restaurant-bar patios such as Legend's, Panama Joe's and Natraj. Bring it on!
If you have driven down Second Street in Belmont Shore lately you have definitely noticed the poinsettias in the medians and lampposts decorated in lights and red tinsel--all part of the march toward the unofficial start of the holidays locally. It's that time of year again, as Shore residents and merchants prepare for the 29th Annual
Put on by the Belmont Shore Business Association, the parade will start at 6 p.m. Saturday night, with nearly 120 entries. This year’s theme, “Its A Green Christmas: Recycle, Reuse and Renew,” will fill the 14-block business district on Second Street in Belmont Shore.
The parade will begin with the Long Beach Junior Concert band, which has been the parade leader since 1982. And next will be this year’s Grand Marshal Gene Rotondo, the former president of the Belmont Shore Business Association. Rotondo is being honored for his contributions to the Belmont Shore Business Association and the Port of Long Beach for efforts to reduce industrial pollution and create a greener environment.
Rotondo’s float will be followed by local personalities, marching bands and floats representing businesses throughout Long Beach, with the arrival of Santa Claus as the parade finale.
Belmont Shore Executive Director Dede Rossi said there are between 240-260 businesses in Belmont Shore, and the parade brings light to the community with nearly 50,000 people attending.
“This is a great community event,” she said. “It brings thousands to the community of Belmont Shore in one day, and hopefully it will bring them back to shop, dine and indulge in the future.”
She said the theme “Green” is paying homage to the efforts the Shore has made to improve the environment. She pointed to Second Street's excitement and celebration of 10 solar-operated trash compactors, and recycling bins called BigBelly waste systems that were installed this year. The Belmont Shore parking and business improvement commission, led by Chairman and property owner Bill Lorbeer, supported that effort.
She also talked about and praised Belmont Shore for its encouragement of alternative transportation in the form of bicycling. In recent years, the Shore added shared bike lines--the green Sharrows--on the roadways.
A couple parade highlights include the Knott’s Berry Farm entry, which includes Snoopy and other characters. Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and his wife Nancy Foster will be in the parade as well as state Senator Alan Lowenthal and many Long Beach City Council members. There will also be celebrities such as radio personality Kim Amadon and Disney television sitcom actor Daniel Curtis Lee.
Rossi said that people can bring blankets, coolers, low lawn chairs and other items on the sidewalks an hour before the parade starts, at 5 p.m. She said no personal property is permitted on the center median until Second Street is fully closed at 5 p.m. She added that areas may not be “roped of.”
Parking for the event is free in the Ocean Boulevard beach lots after 3 p.m., and at the Alamitos Bay Marina parking lot. Street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods is available, but Rossi said she encourages people to take public transportation, walk or ride bicycles to the event.
Rossi said there will be an estimated 50,000 people lining one mile of Second Street to watch the parade, which means closing the street to the nearly 40,000 vehicles that travel it daily.
Below is a list of affected streets and street closures:
- Livingston Avenue will be closed starting at 2 p.m. from Ocean Boulevard to East Second Street for the purpose of staging entrants.
- Side streets from Quincy Avenue to Claremont Avenue will be closed starting at 4 p.m. from Second Street north and southbound to the alleys behind the businesses.
- At 4:45 p.m., East Second Street will close from Livingston Avenue to Bay Shore Avenue. Residents and local traffic will be able to access streets south of Second Street via Ocean Boulevard and Bay Shore Avenue.
The 29th Annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday night.