Wigwam Motel gets decked out for Christmas

For the first time Sunday, the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, Calif., was decorated for Christmas — thanks partly to the efforts of kitsch aficionado Charles Phoenix.

Motorists on Route 66 in the Inland Empire got their first look Sunday evening at one of the motel’s decorated concrete wigwams during the so-called Wig Wam Holiday Lighting & Donut Exchange.

The ceremony, attended by hundreds at the motel’s pool area, included doughnuts arranged into the shape of a small Christmas tree, holiday tunes, and free hot chocolate. Attendees who drove cars predating the 1970s also got free parking.

It’s true Southern California is health-conscious. It’s also true Southern California loooooves its doughnuts. So the doughnut exchange isn’t that incongruous to the region.

Phoenix broached the lighting idea to Wigwam operator Kumar Patel:

The idea to light up a wig wam with classic Christmas lights came from Charles Phoenix who dared to call Wig Wam Village owner Kumar Patel, and ask, “What would a Wig Wam look like all lit up for Christmas … with classic Christmas lights?”

He said, “I don’t know; let’s find out!”

Here’s a video of Phoenix doing his thing during the lighting ceremony. Phoenix gave the Patel family a lot of props for restoring the motel:

Asked Tuesday whether the Wigwam will do a lighting ceremony again next year, Patel replied: “Yes, we plan on growing it.”

The Wigwam Motel was built in 1949. The Patels bought it about 10 years ago when it was in seedy condition and restored it to its former glory and then some. The Wigwam Motel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places last year.

A second, well-preserved Wigwam Motel on Route 66 is located in Holbrook, Ariz.

5 thoughts on “Wigwam Motel gets decked out for Christmas

  1. Great Video !!! Thanks for posting this, Ron. I’ve stayed at The Wigwam three times over the last several years and have always been inpressed with the service and how clean it is !!! I Will be staying there again this coming June !!!

  2. Charles Pheonix would be a great partner for the Route 66 “movement.”
    Sounds like Wigwam was never decorated before!

  3. Gosh, is that ever fun! That would be a fun event—and I can’t believe the Wigwam hasn’t ever been decked out for Christmas before!

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