One of the most colorful and nostalgic events in the Coachella valley is the world – famous Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade. Originating in the early 60’s, it was started by several individuals here in the desert who just wanted have some fun in the summer months. It eventually was changed to the early fall to avoid the immense heat that made dressing in costumes baking in the sun unbearable. The parade was not an every year event until 1983.
In the early days, it was a “Christmas in July” for the benefit of local residents who found the summers boring. Now the annual parade has grown with over 10,000 spectators. And the world has become aware of the event too, with information requests from the Philippines, France, Germany, and Japan.
The parade took place around its annual route that moves westbound on the famous El Paseo Drive from San Luis Rey to Ocotillo. There was ample parking for all spectators as all the shops along El Paseo provided parking lots behind them as well as a double-decker parking structure just behind the Gardens on El Paseo.
The Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade is much more than just golf carts driving down the street. It’s much more. It has been described as a mini Rose Bowl Parade with carts decorated in an assortment of colors with tissue paper streaming into the wind instead of roses along with marching bands, colorful clowns and other marching groups like cheerleading squads, dance groups and cycling clubs to name a few who took part in the festivities. And the kids had a part in the event too, with face painting, crafts, and a rock-climbing wall being some of the activities that brought laughs and fun to the young. And it was all free.
The parade is mainly for electric – powered golf carts only and they all had to be decorated to take part. The event jumps off with an early morning pancake breakfast in the Bank of America Parking lot that had a lot of maple syrup to go around. This is followed by entry check in that began just outside the Union Bank on El Paseo and San Luis Rey. Judging of the carts then started along with the custom Golf Cart Show & Expo.
There were some fantastic designs that showed that the nature of a golf cart is much more than just a golf tool to get players from hole to hole. Then after we all enjoyed the vendors and the refreshments booths as well as the children activities, the Awards Ceremony takes place with the winning golf carts earning accolades and trophies in a number of different categories. Then the senior shaded & VIP seating was opened up that led to the Parade stepping off. The reserved seating featured concierge service that provided snacks and drinks throughout the parade event. But more importantly this is where they is no rush to find a seat and get the best spot to view the host of attractions.
The Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade would not be possible without the strong support of such sponsors like the city of Palm Desert, the Auen Foundation, The Desert Sun, local television & radio stations, and the Eisenhower Medical Center. This is an event that Coachella Valley written all over it and is an excellent way to get a feel for the desert and what it has to offer.