A cherished seasonal tradition is coming back to the neighborhood. The Magical Holiday Parade is set to make its much-anticipated return on Christmas Eve, promising to once again fill the streets of Toluca Lake with cheer and holiday spirit.
The anticipated revival can be largely credited to the passion and dedication of community leader Craig Strong, a longtime resident of Toluca Lake and an avid supporter of the event for several years.
“I’ve lived in Toluca Lake for over 20 years, and I watched the parade with my family every year it occurred,” Strong shares. “Last year, we didn’t have the parade because the truck failed, we didn’t have the funds or the time to get it going, and it was on the heels of COVID. I received so many phone calls, emails and text messages from the community about how disappointed everyone was.”
Strong knew he couldn’t let this special holiday tradition fade away, so he stepped up to the plate and wasted little time assembling an all-star executive committee, which includes community members Ron Miziker and Michael Wahl.
“Michael produces TV shows, and Ron has an extensive and very impressive background with parades,” Strong explains. “This executive committee has been amazing to work with. We really have such a great group of people.”
The best part for Strong has been teaming up with the residents of Toluca Lake. “The community has really stepped up,” he says. “Even those newer to the area, who moved here since COVID and have never experienced this tradition, have gotten involved in a big way. I love that they trust in me when I tell them how amazing this night is. I’ve already raised over $125,000 for this event, which really shows what Toluca Lake is all about.”
Strong adds that there’s plenty to be excited about for this year’s parade. “One of the new things we’re doing this year is going under the 134 Freeway bridge so we can go south of Riverside Drive,” Strong says. “Also, in the past, the truck was the main event. This year, we’re getting flatbed trucks, a trolley and other add-ons. We plan on building amazing-looking sets. We have set some high goals in hopes of getting the ‘wow’ factor back. We also have a production and lighting team, sound, set and costume designers, and dancers. It’s going to be a totally different parade, and it will get better every year. If everything goes well this year, it should be an amazing show. Being it’s our first year back and starting from scratch, our route will be smaller this year than in years past. However, should all go well this year, we are hoping to get most of the old routes back in the future.”
For those looking to help make this the best holiday parade yet, donations can be dropped off at the Craig Strong Group’s office (10154 Riverside Drive), and updates on volunteer opportunities can be found on Instagram (@tolucalakeholidayparade).