Former NYPD BLUE star Dennis Franz has signed up to serve as grand marshal of Santa Barbara, California's holiday parade.

Franz, who lives close to Oprah Winfrey in nearby Montecito, will join marching bands, floats, and Santa Claus in the Santa Barbara Downtown Organisation's Holiday Parade tomorrow (02DEC05).

And while he's looking forward to taking part in the festivities, Franz, 61, plans to head to his family's new ranch in Idaho for the Christmas holidays.

He says, "Coming from Chicago, I like a white Christmas. That was one of the things I had a hard time getting used to when I came to California in '78 - Santa Claus in shorts."