Tonga Hut is Tiki Headquarters for Saturday’s 23rd Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade

Palm Springs annual Golf Cart Parade (Elise Thompson)

Palm Springs annual Golf Cart Parade (Elise Thompson)

The 23rd Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade takes place this Saturday, December 6, 2014. The Tonga Hut is bringing several tiki-based treats to the parade this year. First of all, they will be having a float in the parade. Not only a tiki bar based float, as is befitting one of Southern California’s popular tiki bars, but an exciting treat will be on it. Kevin Murphy spoke about what they are doing, saying, “Last year, we had not even opened yet in Palm Springs, but we wanted to do something in Palm Springs to say ‘Hey, we’re there’, but we knew we had this great group of people from the Tonga Hut in Los Angeles, a real creative group of people, so I thought, let’s do what all the high schools do, get everybody together, build a float in my backyard—-at that time it was my home tiki bar—-and we spread it out over several weekends, had a few drinks, some pizza, and just had fun building a tiki float. We then packed it up, took it to Palm Springs, put it together that Saturday morning and then entered the parade. We thought it was a small parade and we were number 51, but then found out we were right in the middle! Then the guy told me we were expecting over 85,000 people to watch the parade! We had the Tikiyaki Orchestra playing on it, a big volcano—-it was really nicely done. It was pulled by an old 1940 GMC pickup truck. Little did we know, until we were told we won the best big-rig float in the parade. First Prize!”

Mai Tai (Photo by Edward simon for the Los Angeles Beat)

Mai Tai (Photo by Edward simon for the Los Angeles Beat)

He continued, “Now we’re set to put together a new float for this Saturday morning’s parade”. This time, the Tonga Hut in Palm Springs will be Tiki headquarters for the parade, with buffet style hors d’oeuvres and drinks for guests of the sold out patio party, where ticketed guests can watch the parade from the 2nd story balcony. The party will go through the entire parade, when this year’s entertainment on the float, Jason Lee and the RIP Tides, after the parade finishes, will come to the Tonga Hut and provide live music for the rest of the night. DJ Lee of Dionysus Records will also be spinning music at the Tonga Hut. Even though the Tonga Hut in Palm Springs is new, it’s original location in Los Angeles has the distinction of being the oldest tiki bar in Los Angeles, bringing the lure of the islands to North Hollywood since 1958. The Palm Springs locations has been authentically decorated to evoke the days when Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack went to Don the Beachcomber’s on old Palm Canyon Drive. The Tonga Hut will open at 4:00pm with Polynesian food and tiki cocktails available at one of the prime locations on the parade route.

Jason Lee and the RIP Tides will really liven up this year’s float. The three piece, edgy surf-rock instrumental group has become a crowd favorite at the Tonga Hut as well as major events such as this summer’s Tiki Oasis in San Diego. “We’re a post-aggressive surf band”, Jason said. “It’s a little more modern, but at the same time throwback. We’re a three piece group, but will bring in horns and also go go dancers when we perform live”, according to Jason. “We basically lean toward the dark side. I write everything generally dark, just because I like that. I like Dollhouse, a lot of those bands. So it tends to cross over a lot, even though we are playing surf. Sometimes it’s just not a day to surf!”. It does indeed make a unique mix of sounds, making Jason not a strict surf band but a high-energy and yet thought-provoking musical tour-de-force. For the parade, they’ll be doing Christmas Surf Music, putting their own unique spin on the holiday sounds.

Photo by Mark D. Kline and courtesy of Jason Lee.

Photo by Mark D. Kline and courtesy of Jason Lee.

The parade steps off at Ramon Rd at 5:45 pm and follows Palm Canyon Drive through downtown Palm Springs to Tamarisk Rd. There is some first come, first serve seating on bleachers on the route, but viewers are recommended to bring their own chairs if they don’t want to stand. At the Tonga Hut, with such a popular place and viewing location, it is also suggested to get their early. The music from DJ Lee starts at 4:00 pm. That also will give Tonga Hut guests a chance to enjoy the cocktail menu, which contains more than 40 drinks, including classic cocktails and classic tiki drinks. The menu also includes numerous original drinks, including some that are exclusive to the Palm Springs location. A full Polynesian dinner menu is also available for those who like to enjoy authentic tiki bar food.

Palm Springs Parade of Lights website
Tonga Hut website
Jason Lee and the RIP Tides website
Dionysus Records website 

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Ed Simon

About Ed Simon

Ed is a native of Los Angeles who loves food and food cultures. Whether he's looking for the best ceviche in Colombia, the best poke in Hawaii, the best tequila in Jalisco or the best Taiwanese Beef Roll in Los Angeles, it's all good food! He also loves a good drink. He's had Mai Tais in Hawaii, Bourbon in Kentucky, Tequila in Mexico and Rum in Jamaica. His wine escapades have taken him to Napa, Sonoma, the Willamette Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley. And he's had beer all over the world! Music is another of Ed's passion, writing and interviewing many classic rock, rock and blues musicians. Getting the great stories of road experiences from them is a particular delight. Traveling also fits in with Ed's writing, exploring all over to find the most interesting places to visit, even in out of the way areas.
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