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While picking out one of the Palm Spring mansions to move into permanently, you might be thinking, “What’s there to do when in Palm Springs?” Actually, there are plenty, each one quite unique from the other and each year, more events are added to the calendar. And so, here they are, just four of the dozens of annual events you can look forward to when you’re in Palm Springs.
By Danie – Like Riding a Bicycle
TOUR DE PALM SPRINGS
If France has its “Tour de France”, then California has its Tour de Palm Springs. If the Tour de France was born out of a 1903 newspaper rivalry, then Tour de Palm Springs was born out of the goodness of one man’s heart.
First called “Spokes for Different Folks”, the idea of holding a bike race came to Esser president on January 31st, 1998. On the first race the following year, 400 cyclists peddled different lengths, namely 5, 15, 20 and 50. The event raised $20,000 and the non-profit organization Coachella Valley Serving People In Need (CVSPIN) was founded by Essler and his mother. The following year, the event was renamed Tour de Palm Springs and the number of participants more than doubled and another length was added: 100 miles. The event also beat four major Palm Springs events to be declared by the Coachella Valley Desert Business Association as the “Best Even in the Valley” in 2001 and as the years pass, more money has been raised to go towards many charities in the area. Today, the event is held every January and has five routes, including a 1 1/2 mile walk and a 3-mile walk. Helmets are mandatory, as per California law. Do not forget to bring and drink plenty of water.
PALM DESERT GOLF CART PARADE
Golf carts can rarely be seen outside of, well, golf courses. And whenever you’d see them, they’re always painted a neutral colour like beige or white. In Palm Springs, the golf cart was forever changed when Phil Harris, Alice Faye and some of their other friends were bored and wanted something else to do. When they realized they were residing in the world’s golf capital, they decided to throw the first Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade in the early 60s and it was not an annual event until 1983.
Today, it’s organized through the collaboration of the Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce and City of Palm Desert along with a 20 person volunteer committee. If you think it’s just a dozen or more golf carts parading through the street, you’re wrong. There are bands, marching groups, clowns, face painting for the kids, a rock climbing wall and more. There’s also an early morning pancake breakfast and a special cart show for the adults. There’s an annual theme the carts must follow and said carts must be at least 80% decorated, so you know they didn’t skip on the decor. If you plan to watch, better come early since 15000-30000 are expected to watch annually.
When it comes to vintage Palm Springs Mansions, perhaps nobody did it best than the modernists. Oftentimes called the most important architectural style and design of the 20th century, it was prominent post World War II. Trademarks of a modernist home included a flat roof, large windows made by metal and glass framework, cream or white themed, cubist or cylindrical and asymmetrical proportions. A few notable examples are the Kaufmann House designed by Richard Neutra and the House of Tomorrow designed by William Kristel. It’s no wonder why Palm Springs dedicated a whole week to this movement.
Modernism Week was organized in 2006 by design and architecture local fanatics after they observed the triumphant holding of the Palm Springs Modernism Show and Sale as well as Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Council’s annual symposium. Its aim is to flaunt the magnificent mid-century modernism in Palm Springs. Three years later, it became a non-profit organization that formed a scholarship program for students who wish to enter the architecture and design field. The organization also offers financial support to local and state preservation organizations whose focus is modernist architecture.
Set in mid-February, there are over 350 events that will take place during this time period. It’s a celebration not just of the architecture, but as well as the fashion and culture. Some of the best modern homes that are private property will be opening their doors for this week only. There will be double-decker bus architecture tours, seminars and sales galore. With so many happenings, you’ll have a hard time picking where to go and which events to attend.
PALM SPRINGS FESTIVALS OF LIGHTS
It’s only appropriate to start off the festive month of December with the bright Palm Springs Festival of Lights. Held every first Saturday of December, it’s an absolute must for anyone planning to spend the holiday season in Palm Springs.
The inaugural festival was held on December 5, 1993, and was proposed by then-mayor Will Kleindienst along with some residents. Since then it has been held on the first Saturday of December every year.
When seeing the Palm Springs Festival of Lights, it must be noted that it’s a spectacle to remember, with floats decked out in thousands of lights, enormous Macy’s-like balloons, marching bands, celebrities, cartoon characters, and performers. It’s an absolute must for anyone planning to spend the holiday season in Palm Springs.
These events are organized to be enjoyed by many. Who knows, maybe in the near future you just might be a willing participant in one of them.