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Who's idea was it to have a parade, anyway?

I mean, where did the concept come from?

According to some of our timeless movie masterpieces —"Ben Hur," "Gladiator," etc.  — the Romans loved to parade through the streets, displaying the spoils of their conquests. I'm not sure that really happened, but if it's on the big screen, it must be true.

Sticking with the theme, one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, "Miracle on 34th Street," revolves around the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. As I understand it, the department store started that parade as an advertising ploy— a necessity, since Facebook or Google weren't around.

Truth be told, that commercial aspect had something to do with the founding of the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade. The Belmont Shore Business Association was justly proud of the Second Street business district, and wanted a way to get more people here.

Thirty-seven years and an average spectator attendance of 50,000 later, the parade seems to have accomplished its mission.

But, both for the Belmont Shore parade and the very idea of parades, I think there's more involved.

I think it's all about sharing.

Those Romans wanted to share their success — and brag a little while they were at it. Macy's wanted to share the holiday spirit, no matter what their motives.

Let's stick closer to home. While the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade is by far the largest, there are three other Christmas parades in Long Beach, four if you count the march down Main Street in Old Towne Seal Beach.

In each and every one, the marchers, riders and sailors (two of the four are on the water) are trying to share a good time with their friends and neighbors. The Christmas parades in particular are great when it comes to bringing people together through a common spirit.

Our only problem in Long Beach is that there aren't enough weekends in December. This year, there are only three before the big day. It's a physical impossibility to go to, much less participate in, all the parades, concerts, plays and parties. But I'll do what I can — who can turn down a Christmas party?

As I've mentioned here before (about 28 times), the Grunion Gazette and John and Fran Blowitz were there at the beginning of the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade. There's a sense of ownership here — of both the parade and the community. We're sharing the holiday with our people.

I'd be remiss if I didn't give a tip of the hat to this year's grand marshal, Beverly O'Neill. She has shared her entire life with Long Beach, and epitomizes what's good about our city.

Over the years as I've driven down the parade route, I've seen people sharing blankets, pizzas, stuff in those red cups and more. And they share their Merry Christmases with us, as we share with them.

In many ways, sharing defines what I love best about our little town. People share here — opinions, ideas, food, fun, money and more. I'm honored and humbled to be a part of it all.

See you at the parade. I'll wave. Promise.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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