Christmas Comes Early in Beverly Hills

BEVERLY HILLS, CA.–They don’t call it Tinseltown for nuthin’.
Shop owners in Beverly Hills wasted no time in getting their Christmas decorations up this year—a full week before U.S. Thanksgiving. Giant fake trees covered in bright red and gold decorations stood tall in the swank storefronts in the Rodeo Drive neighbourhood.
The whole burb was done up in a “Deck the Hills” motif. There was a damn the economy, full speed ahead frenziness to the festive decor.
Giant red velvet bows were everywhere. Barney’s New York on Wilshire had their holiday “Witty Tree,” with quotes like this from Will Rogers: “If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?” A giant fake Christmas tree stood near the entrance to Van Cleef & Arpels, with garlands galore down the railings. Overhead, Santa’s sleight and eight not-so-dainty reindeer shot out over Wilshire Blvd. Toward Santa Monica Blvd., chrome busts were tackied up with the latest festive frocks. One Ladies apparel shop did their own spin on a current movie title:

The grand Beverly Wilshire Hotel–made famous as a back drop for the Richard Gere-Julia Roberts feature Pretty Woman–showed remarkable reserve in not indulging in the festive spirit, electing to hold off on the xmas decor until after Thanksgiving. Good show.
The fact that it hit 80F Thursday is another good reason to show restraint. Still, other retailers are not going to let the weather or a bah humbug hotel dampen their Christmas spirit. They’ve arranged for Mrs. Claus to conduct story telling sessions on the Beverly Hills trolley which runs tourists through the retail region.
Santa himself will be dropping by this weekend at The Paley Center for Media. St. Nick is due Sunday where he’ll be sharing cookies and milk. TV fans can check out several holiday classics running in the Paley screening room, including Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman and Lamb Chop’s Special Chanukah.
I stopped by the Paley Thursday to screen a 1951 episode of the late night talk show forerunner Broadway Open House, hosted by burlesque comedian Jerry Lester. Zaftig Dagmar still steals what is essentially a radio show. The Paley–formerly the Museum of TV and Radio–also has an on-going exhibit of photos of Catwoman stunner Julie Newmar on display in the center’s Bell Family Gallery until Dec. 6. They’re also screening a series of specials saluting U.S. Thanksgiving, including a 1973 episode of The Waltons titled “The Thanksgiving Story.”

Christmas sights do compete with Thanksgiving smells along the strip. The fragrant aroma of pumpkin pie and nutmeg and cinnamon sticks practically drags you into Williams-Sonoma. For every storefront window featuring a ginger bread house covered in elves, there was a stunning chocolate window display of pumpkins and turkeys (especially in one shop next to famed eatery Spagos). The basic message of excess at all times shone through. Until the next bailout, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

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