Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Farewell Marilyn" ~"The Last Hurrah" ~ Palm Springs, California

“Forever Marilyn” is about to say farewell to Palm Springs.  The 26 foot 17 ton statue has been visiting here for almost 2 years and has been enjoyed by thousands of visitors, most of who have posed to have their photo taken with her.  Marilyn Monroe is still a big draw even as a statue.

"Forever Marilyn" Monroe in Palm Springs, CA
Marilyn has been standing on this corner which has become a kind of town center but due to upcoming construction, the spot is no longer available so her departure is done in good timing.  The new center will have a place available should Marilyn return and that is the hopes of the city of Palm Springs.

"Farewell Marilyn" ceremony in Palm Springs, CA
Marilyn’s Farewell party was held downtown Palm Springs as thousands gathered to watch the ceremony to celebrate her visit as well as say ‘farewell’.  The hope is that this great tribute to Marilyn Monroe, “Forever Marilyn” will return to Palm Springs once she has spent her time at The Sculpture Foundation in New Jersey, where she will soon be.

"Forever Marilyn"is leaving Palm Springs, CA
Seward Johnson, the sculptor of “Forever Marilyn”, will be turning 84 years of age and The Sculpture Foundation will truck the statue across the country to New Jersey so she will be there to celebrate this birthday with him.

Desert Winds Freedom Band
The Desert Winds Freedom Band performed for the evening’s farewell.  It wasn’t easy to get up front to get a photo where they could also be heard, for most of our time there I was out of earshot so was not able to hear the band.

Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus
The chorus was wonderful to hear, when within earshot.  The crowd was large, the noise that goes along with that as well as there not being large speakers that would have projected the voices for more people to enjoy.  I barely heard the “happy birthday” song sung by Carol Channing and sure was not able to see her, and that was very disappointing.  This photo from behind was the best one I could get of the chorus!
Signatures for "Marilyn" in Palm Springs, CA
People were signing their names to the board showing the “Farewell Marilyn” agenda.  It is pretty amazing to see the support that was given to this occasion and hopefully “Forever Marilyn” will return to the area again.

Villagefest in downtown Palm Springs, CA
The Villagefest is a streetfair in downtown Palm Springs every Thursday evening.  It has offered artists to showcase and sell their wares as well as a great selection of foods.  Palm Canyon Drive is closed down to traffic for several blocks and over 200 booths are there for all to visit and enjoy.  There is always a big crowd for this 20 year old market but tonight seems to have a few extra thousand with the “Farewell to Marilyn” included.

Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs, CA
The old Plaza Theatre is where the Palm Springs Follies have performed and it is a gem of an old theater that is a 77 year old movie house.  I don’t believe cameras would have been allowed in there for our visits when they were performing but I wish I could share some of the wonderful interior.  I do hope that this will not become an empty old building but be something that others can enjoy for years to come.

Follies "The Last Hurrah" Palm Springs, CA
The Palm Springs Follies has been a great part of the city for 23 years now but it too is leaving.  In this case it is not going elsewhere but is closing down due to the economy incline that has affected live theater all over the country.  This is the last year for these performances, it really is “The Last Hurrah”.  We’ve seen it several times over the years and have enjoyed every show, the Follies will be greatly missed.

Marilyn is leaving, the Follies are closing and our stay in the desert has come to an end, too…… lots of good-byes!  Some of us will return but only time will tell which ones.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

American Veterans Travelling Tribute Vietnam Wall ~ Palm Springs Air Museum

The Palm Springs Air Museum is a long established museum which houses aircraft some of which are associated with WW11.  We’ve known it would be interesting to visit but the opportunity was not to be missed when the American Veterans Travelling Tribute (AVTT) Vietnam Wall was making a stop at the Air Museum.

Palm Springs Air Museum
The Palm Springs Air Museum is the home of one of the largest collections of flyable WW11 aircraft, some of them on display outside as well as three large hangars that house several more.  They were host to the AVTT Vietnam Wall when it was displayed behind the hangars on a visit to Palm Springs, CA.

American Veterans Travelling Tribute Vietnam Wall
The mission of the AVTT is to bring the community together to Honor, Respect and Remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  The wall is 80% size of the original one that sits at Washington, DC.  This travelling one is 360’x 8’ at the apex and has a total of 58,263 names dating from 1955 to 1975.  The names are listed on the date they were wounded or missing, then alphabetically on that date.

Flags fly over the Vietnam Wall
The Memorial Wall in Washington, DC was designed by Maya Lin. This was completed by November 1, 1982 and is now part of an area called the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and dedicated to those who fought in the war.  This was accepted by the President of the United States on November 10, 1984.  It replica appears to have been travelling since 2010 although I wasn’t able to confirm that as the beginning of its travels.

Represents the American soldier
This story of war is never easy and the ages of these young men and women who lost their lives fighting the Vietnam war was a heartbreaker to read.  The largest age group was 18 years of age at 33,103.  They were only kids.  Over 50,000 of them were aged 17-29 with majority 18-26 years old.  997 of them died on their first day there.  1448 died on their last day of duty before they were to go home.  31 sets of brothers died fighting this war.

Travel trailer for the travelling Vietnam wall
The AVTT  Tribute Wall is transported within a trailer on cross country travels.  Costs are self funded with merchandise sales, donations and sponsorship fees that cover expenses for providing the Wall, crew that transports and displaying the Wall for us to see.

Inside the Palm Springs Air Museum
The Palm Springs Air Museum offers so much to see for anyone who may have an interest in war memorabilia.  It is the home of one of the largest collections of flyable WW11 aircraft, some of them on display outside as well as three large hangars that house several more.  There is a library with shelves of 8500 books to read as well as several computers with flight simulators for the young and old to play with.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The City of Desert Hot Springs and the Community and Cultural Affairs Commission brought donations of supplies and funds together with local artist Dan Sarberg and now have “Project Fallen Hero – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” which honors fallen soldiers from all wars.

"Flying Boxcar"
 This “Flying Boxcar” is a Fairchild C-119-G and is part of the Korean War Commemorative Exhibit.  This war was fought 1950-1953 and the instruments are a reflection of that era.  We were able to enter the small cockpit and have a good look at it and marvel at the bare bones on the body of the aircraft.

Palm Springs Air Museum
The AVTT Vietnam Wall was what brought us to the Palm Springs Air Museum but there are several reasons why anyone with an interest in aircrafts would want to visit this amazing museum, there is so much to see.  Veterans make up the majority of volunteers at the museum and are more than willing to share the history.  For more information or planning a tour on your visit to the museum, click here.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

BNP Paribas Open ~ Indian Wells Tennis Gardens

World class tennis comes to the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens once a year but 2014 has much more to offer to this year’s event.  The expansion has been completed and our visit to the facility during the BNP Paribas Open, the most attended ATP (Assoc. of Tennis Professionals) World Tour and WTA (Women’s Tennis Assoc) tennis tournament in the world, gave us a chance to see all that is now offered at this beautiful location.

Indian Wells Tennis Gardens, California
We’ve driven by the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens several times since it was first built in 2000 but have not had occasion to see an event.  This year the opportunity was there and we took it and were very impressed with what we saw, even though we aren’t necessarily tennis fans.

Courtyard at Indian Wells Tennis Gardens
The grounds offer lots of date palm tree-lined walks with patios and green space to allow for large crowds that would be expected at such events.  We arrived early in the day so the crowds were small but it wasn’t long before that changed and this was only during the day of the women’s qualifying rounds.

Stadium 2 at Indian Wells, CA
The big draw of the new facility is Stadium 2, an addition to Main Stadium 1 that seats over 16,000. The brand new tennis court offers seating for 8000 to accommodate the large crowds that attend the world class tennis matches.  We were here to see early rounds that would not include the top players but those who were rated lower and competing to qualify.  Here we were watching a warm-up.

Camila Giorgi from Italy at BNP Paribas Open
The match we did watch was between American Irina Falconi and Camila Giorgi from Italy who turned professional in 2006 and has been touring the circuits.  She qualified for the main draw of the BNP Paribas in March and we saw her win this match with very little difficulty. 

Food court at Indian Wells Tennis Gardens
There are several choices for fast food to have lunch or dinner and refreshments along this corridor of the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens.  This covered seating area is available for all to bring their lunch to and enjoy their favorite drink.  There is a stage that has events scheduled throughout the tournament that is sure to entertain those taking a break from the tennis matches.  There are three very nice restaurants, as well.

Large video walls at Indian Wells Tennis Garden
There are several large video walls on the grounds for viewing of the games being played even if you’re not in the stadium.  Several games may be ongoing on many different courts at the same time.  There are 13 sunken courts as well as the two large stadiums.

2013 champion Roger Federer 
This year’s event includes players such as Roger Federer, winner in 2012, Rafal Nadal of Spain who is defending his 2013 title and considers it one of the best tournaments in the world.  Maria Sharapova from Russia who recently reported on the 2014 Winter Olympics for NBC is defending her 2013 title and will be a highlight at this year’s event.  

Practice courts
There were practice games being played on some of the ten practice courts within the 54 acres of Indian Wells Tennis Gardens.  The women were playing on the day of our visit but the practice courts had men getting ready for their turn on following days. 

Anastasia Rodionova and Alison Van Uytvanck
We also watched part of the match played by Anastasia Rodionova and Alison Van Uytvanck who would serve that ball at 100 mph.  The event hosts over 300 of the top rated tennis players in the world so any game watched is of the highest caliber.

Parking with a view
There is room for 7000 vehicles at this location with an incredible backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains.  Although we only spent a few hours for our visit, there sure were a lot more cars there when we left.  Space for 2000 more cars was made during the recent renovation and I expect they were all filled as the two week event progress in the final days. 

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is used for several tournaments and concerts throughout the year but the world class BNP Paribas in March is a major one.  Tennis fans from around the world come to view the event and will enjoy being a visitor to this venue; we sure were.


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