Explore Palm Springs: Thanksgiving by the Pool

Hotels, restaurants welcomed holiday diners dating back to the 1940s

Nicolette Wenzell History 0 Comments


While other cities across the nation fight freezing temperatures, Palm Springs celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday poolside.

Historically, Palm Springs citizens have annually celebrated Thanksgiving in many ways. Of course, families gathered in homes across the Valley sharing turkey and camaraderie around the dining room table.

However, celebrations were not limited to private homes; hotels and restaurants welcomed many into their warm environs and provided feasts.

Nellie Coffman’s Desert Inn celebrated Thanksgiving each year with a delicious spread served noon to 8 p.m. Known for its intricately detailed, artistic special-event menus, The Desert Inn pulled out all of the stops for their Thanksgiving Menus depicting comforting Thanksgiving imagery with class.

In 1934, the menu featured such items as roast young Coachella Turkey with chestnut dressing and avocado salad in natural shell.  A circa 1940s menu boasted green turtle soup with old sherry as well as cold sliced marinated tenderloin and silver asparagus.

For dessert? Pumpkin chiffon pie.

The Desert Inn was not the only hotel that provided a world-class dinner to its Thanksgiving patrons. El Mirador Hotel, Howard Manor, the Palm Springs Tennis Club, and the Racquet Club, each had festivities as well.

In fact, Racquet Club owner Charles Farrell could be found Thanksgiving afternoon checking on the roasting turkey in the club’s kitchen. The cover of the November 1955 Palm Springs Villager magazine featured Lawrence Welk’s Champagne Lady, Roberta Linn, dressed in a vibrant frock barbecuing a turkey poolside.

There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 75 in 2013.

One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a weekly story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. Visit www.pshistoricalsociety.org for more information.

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