by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The 88th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, one of Hollywood's oldest traditions which sees film and television stars gather on Hollywood boulevard, kicked off on Sunday night.
Pre-parade performers included singers Dionne Warwick, David Archuleta, Brandon Jenner, Phil Vassar, Jesse & Joy and Bret Michaels.
"This a wonderful event for me to do at Christmas time," Dionne Warwick, who performed her classic hit "What the World Needs Now is Love" during the event, told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, Bret Michaels received the Hollywood Parade organizer's "Humanitarian of the Year Award," for his extensive charity relief efforts in storm-torn areas of Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
The parade was hosted by a range of TV stars, including Erik Estrada, Laura McKenzie, Dean Cain, Elizabeth Stanton and Montel Williams, as well as Mario Lopez, who launched the opening ceremony.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti showed up to wish everyone a very merry Christmas on stage. "Nobody does Christmas quite like the Hollywood Christmas Parade!" he later tweeted.
Costumed characters from the Star Wars and Batman franchises also took part in the parade.
"We love Christmas and sharing it this way with our big Batman family -- which is the whole world," Burt Ward, who played Robin in the classic Batman TV series, told Xinhua.
Iconic vehicles featured in Hollywood hits were another highlight of the parade, including appearances from the likes of the "Back to the Future" DeLorean, the Mustang featured in "Charlie's Angels," the "Jurassic Park" Jeep, and the "Ghostbusters" car.
"The cars are so cool and are so specifically Hollywood. You'd never see them in any other parade," said Shelly Bates, an attendee.
Enjoying the parade has become a tradition for local families. Many attendees said that they had been brought to the parade by their parents when they were young, and were now bringing their own kids.
The event's television producer, Lindsay Isom, who has taken her own kids to the parade with her since they were born, said that "this whole idea ... with a huge red carpet down the center of Hollywood boulevard ... gives you a great feeling of nostalgia."
The annual event is co-sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps' "Toys for Tots" program, which sees Christmas presents given to needy kids whose families cannot afford to buy any.
"We gave away about 23,000 toys in our area last year. There are donation boxes along the route, and we work with the Salvation Army to wrap them and give them out to kids who need them," said a marine corporal.
Over a hundred volunteers joined in a massive community clean-up before and after the parade, including homeless people who participated in the "Cash for Trash" initiative, and were treated to a special thank-you lunch sponsored by local businesses.