In 1946, Gene Autry was Grand Marshal and the only movie star that was part of the Santa Claus Lane Parade.
This parade aspired to rival the massive Christmas parades in New York City,
such as the Macy's parade. This led to adding musicians and actors into the
arsenal of cars and floats that were part of this Los Angeles parade.
Behind Gene was a float that had Santa sitting on it. As the procession moved
through the streets he could hear the kids in the crowds chanting, "Here comes
Santa Claus." This simple chant would linger with Gene Autry and lay the
groundwork to his composition (with Oakley Haldeman) of the Christmas classic
song, Here Comes Santa Claus, in 1947. He would release this as a single through Columbia Records
and later on his own label, Challenge Records. The song would peak in 1947 at #5
on the Country charts and #9 on the Pop music charts.
Today, Here Comes Santa Claus is one of the iconic
songs that has found a home among the many songs that are sung in schools,
choirs, and even by other musicians. The song itself has been performed by
Autry, himself, Elvis Presley, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan,
Chicago, the cast of Glee, and even Alvin and the Chipmunks. Even the silver
screen has found a place to present this timeless song through movies like
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, in 1989, and in the 2007 Christmas film,
As long as there is a Christmas spirit the song that was inspired by the
children at a California parade so many decades ago will live on.