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Beverly Hills ambassador loses job

Beverly Hills ambassador Gregg Donovan was laid off because the city says it just can't afford him.

February 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The economic times are so tough, the glitzy community of Beverly Hills had to lay off its goodwill ambassador. The man who wore top hat and tails as he greeted visitors and posed for photos told his story Tuesday.

For more than a decade, Gregg Donovan has been greeting people along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills dressed in top hat and tails.

As ambassador of Beverly Hills he boomed out his friendly message: "Welcome to Beverly Hills" in several languages.

His face is known to many celebrities who've posed with him in these photos posted on his web site, and he has posed for photos with tourists and offered shopping advice. Last month the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau laid him off, saying his job was being eliminated due to budget cuts.

"It is like being married and your wife tells you she wants a divorce, that's how it feels," said Donovan.

"He is a part of Beverly Hills, it will be a shame to see him go," said one visitor.

"He is like the voice of the town and we need him here," said Burbank resident John Holden.

And it is not just people on the streets who notice the ambassador's absence. Business owners say they miss him too.

"He bring me people and I sell to them, and they are happy, they like him also," said store owner Shosh Levy."He was really, really good. He helped everyone."

Donovan is hoping the city or the Chamber of Commerce will rehire him.

"This is a beautiful city and I don't want to leave," said Donovan.

But now he is unemployed and he is prepared to go to another famous destination if he is wanted.

"Welcome to Hollywood, you have arrived," said Donovan.