By Laura Medina
Running out of Christmas/Holiday gifting ideas? Especially, when you got enough stuff.
Now a days, everyone is all about "living the experience."
Why not give others and yourself an experience that occurs once a year, being a balloon wrangler as a guest at the Hollywood Hotel.
It's a special, once-a-year, hotel package where you enter a special world that happens once a year, November 27th, the day and night of the Hollywood Christmas Parade...
Since anchoring, pulling, holding, and guiding a huge parade balloon is one heck of resistance training, the Hollywood Hotel is kind enough to provide an one-night stay to rest your weary bones and buns of steel.
Minimally sleek yet Hollywood Chic, interior designers, Katy Naghavi, founder of the successful, Beverly Hills-based studio, Atelier Katayon, explained the décor.
Fresh, chic and cosmopolitan, this creation is classic Hollywood style minus the clichés. There are no framed movie posters here, and not a film reel in sight. Instead, guests will indulge in stylish, modern comfort. Updated elements include light wood grain floors, down-filled duvets and pillows, interactive flat-screen TVs and modern custom-designed furnishings. A freestanding, vintage style clothes rack and fashion-inspired artwork add a witty and glamorous touch of studio wardrobe department to the overall feel.
The new rooms' scene-stealing mix of patterns, textures and colors includes a compact but striking black and white bathroom with Waterworks fixtures and Poggessi toiletries from Tuscany. Added to the mix, guests will enjoy a selection of exquisite in-room amenities typically associated with world-class luxury brands: single serve coffee makers, waffle-weave spa robes, monogrammed bed throw, headboard-mounted, flexible reading lights and an blue tooth enabled station/alarm/clock.
Once checked and settled in, you can hop and skip over to the Los Angeles Metro Subway station at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.
Follow Jeff Zarrinnam's (The Hollywood Hotel's CEO and President and unofficial "Head Elf") advice, "Get on the Santa Monica & Vermont subway, count four stops until you arrive at Hollywood & Highland subway stop. Get off at the Hollywood & Highland station/stop then walk up to Hollywood Boulevard then walk to the balloon wrangler/Christmas Parade check-in at 7065 Hollywood Boulevard. Don't forget to bring in your Registration Form, signed."
Once you submit, literally, the paperwork...signed...and checked in with your red "Hollywood Christmas Parade" wristband, you entered a temporary but very much magical world of parade performers in the right mini-green room where you get your appropriate green or red parade t-shirts.
But on the left-hand side, is the celebrity green room, where this year's parade headliners, Cyndi Lauper and Kenny G. get styled and warm-up and where the band, War, fuel up for their float performance...
Here's the band, War, chilling, warming up, and fueling up in a conference/dining room, watching the football games on their phones. They didn't load up on their float until 3:30pm.
Mind you, the gourmet snacks and "green room," where War was grouping up and warming up, was the minor green room.
But, you got to wait for Jeff Zarrinnam to get you into the "real" Green Room.
As The Hollywood Hotel's "Head Elf," he's the only one who can get you...and your "Hollywood Hotel Balloon" Team members into the official "Green Room, a magical building," Hollywood's idea of Diagon Alley.
Jeff informed, that in the "real Main Green Room," you'll meet a bunch of celebrities, like Erik Estrada...
Jeff is wise enough to suggest to us "Hollywood Hotel Elves/Balloon Wranglers" to load up on the feast, because we'll be waiting outside for two hours, for us to start marching for the three miles long parade.
We "Hollywood Hotel/Christmas Parade Elves" loaded up on heart-warming, filling feast of: Cranberry-Apple Glazed Stuffed Roasted Pork Loin, Chicken Roulade, Broccoli Au Gratin, Black Truffle Mac n' Cheese, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes. The desserts have their own dining room!
With our tummies full, our systems fortified, and our hearts warm, Jeff instructed us elves to conjugate where the balloons are being blown up..."Places everyone. Places everyone," El Cerrito Place, off Hollywood Boulevard.
The Hollywood Hotel Gang composed of the hotel guests and the non-profit arts organization, "Playground of Dreams," http://playgroundofdreams.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/Playgroundofdreams/?fref=nf, a mentoring program that provides children with a safe place to dream, to ignite their creativity, and to be inspired leaders in their communities. It's one of many charities that Jeff participates in. Having these kids as balloon wranglers, is one of many ways to fulfill these kids' dreams. Also, big kids' dreams, too.
As the last and the next to last balloons, Balloons 14th and 15th, "The Hollywood Hotel Elf" balloons helmed by "Playground of Dreams and Hollywood Hotel guests" crew, the parade crews and the marching bands all start at La Brea Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard (the Formation Balloon area, El Cerrito Place) then march through the red carpet at Hollywood and Highland then turn down Vine and Cahuenga, marching south on Cahuenga, turn left onto Sunset then end at Sunset and Sycamore Float Disbanding Area, after dodging horse fertilizers and low-hanging traffic lights, so not to rip the expensive parade balloons and trudge through the horse fertilizer.
The Christmas Spirit and team bonding didn't end there.
Jeff, the "Head Elf," kindly buys the whole crew In n' Out meals, as a rewarding and truly Californian dinner for guiding and holding the Hollywood Hotel Elf balloons for the whole three parade miles.
What a bonding experience to tying up this whole "window of time" that leads you to a tunnel of rare and unique events and places that only occurs once a year.
The Playground of Dreams kid was kind and courteous enough, in how to return to Hollywood Hotel, using the LA Metro Subway system, board the Red Line heading to Union Station, at the Hollywood & Highland station. In reverse, count four stops. When you reach the Santa Monica Boulevard & Vermont Avenue station stop, get off the subway train there, ride escalator up to the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard & Vermont Avenue, cross across Vermont Avenue then walk up half the block to Hollywood Hotel, where you can rest your weary feet and buns of steel for a night.
There isn't like resting up your feet (please wear comfortable boots and a good field jacket with good patch pockets and a cap for inclement weather) and a warm mug of decaf coffee after a good long, resistant exercise wrangling a huge parade balloon. Think of it as one, big kite.
You earned your post-Hollywood Christmas Parade breakfast/brunch of: Made-from-Scratch Omelette, special Hearts Belgian Waffles, and pile on the sausages.
Before you know it, you're back to the real world at the 11am check-out time.
Being an Hollywood Christmas Parade "Balloon Elf/Wrangler" could be an once-in-a lifetime experience, but it can be a new Christmas/Holiday tradition when all you have to do is book the Hollywood Christmas Parade Package at the Hollywood Hotel every year, for you and/or for your friends and family; but the bonding and the welcome are forever.
Yes Virginia, the Christmas Spirit does exist in Hollywood.