By Mike Cupp
Cabazon, CA — The First Annual Morongo Sleigh Ride was a two-day event held on December 9th and 10th. There were two group ride options starting at either Palm Springs Harley-Davidson (a twenty mile ride) or Temecula Harley-Davidson (a sixty mile ride), going to the Sleigh Ride event at the Morongo Casino & Resort. Once you get away from the city traffic, getting to Morongo is a relaxing ride through the foothills and deserts of Southern California. The weather during the day was a crisp 65°, with occasional gusts of wind to keep you on your toes, but the weather drops quickly in the evening to 45°, so be prepared with something warm to wear on the way home.
Attendees were encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to the event, and as a reward, you were given raffle entries for not one, but two custom bikes that were given away over the weekend! Over 200 toys were donated and they benefited the J.J. Johnson Foundation, which provides humanitarian aid in the form of housing, nutrition, clean water, medical assistance, education and job skill training.
It was a blustery day, and the event took place in a massive outdoor tent. Seriously, this tent was easily the size of a football field, and although the wind would occasionally cause the tent fabric to sway, the metal tent frame was solid as a rock. Near the back of the tent was a large stage featuring the Sleigh Ride logo and the name of the first band, Slaughter. Tables and chairs were plentiful, in both the standard height, and the tall nightclub variety. Morongo really knows how to take care of their guests, as there were food and drink stations in opposite corners of the tent, to ensure you didn’t have to walk far to quench your thirst or grab a bite to eat. The bar served beer, wine and a limited selection of mixed drinks, while the food was a great assortment of hearty, comfort foods like pulled pork sandwiches, tacos and giant pretzels (all of which were very tasty).
Morongo also hosted a Social Media Contest for Best Food, Best Drink and Best Creative Photo, taken at the event and shared using the hashtag, #MorongoSleighRide. The winners, Lorraine, Mandy and Darrell, each received a free one-night hotel stay and a $100 dining credit. Not too bad for posting a few pictures online.
Todd won the Custom Paul Yaffe “Captain America” bike; Tina won the brand new 2017 Harley-Davidson FLHXS Street Glide Special supplied by Palm Springs H-D
Broady, the morning DJ from The Eagle 106.9 was the MC for the event. He did a great job keeping the crowd entertained between musical sets, and announcing and hosting the various games and promotions throughout the day. It’s too bad I don’t live closer to their radio station, as I thought he would be very enjoyable to hear on morning radio.
Although there was entertainment throughout the day in the main tent, the real action was inside the casino. Morongo is one of the nicest casinos in California. Slot machines, blackjack, pai gow and all your other favorites are just a short walk away from the main Sleigh Ride tent. They also offer a number of dining choices that will please anyone, from fine dining at Cielo Steakhouse, to their more traditional Tacos & Tequila, Natural 9 Noodle Company, Sunset Bar & Grill, Potrero Canyon Buffet, or their food court with all the fast food favorites. People could be seen walking back and forth between the casino and the event throughout the day, so it was clearly a popular choice.
The musical lineup was a superb collection that included Slaughter, Great White, Autograph and the all-girl Vixen. Morongo also offered a VIP experience option that included a Meet & Greet and pictures with the bands, and lots of backstage fun. Although the venue was fairly large, the concerts felt very intimate and cozy, with good, loud sound and bands that got the crowd moving.
I didn’t get a chance to “test” their hotel rooms on this visit, but with a two day event like this, it would have been an ideal way to enjoy both days of the Sleigh Ride, while enjoying all of the amenities that Morongo has to offer.
A big thanks to Morongo Casino, their staff, Palm Springs H-D, Temecula H-D, The Eagle 106.9, Slaughter, Great White, Autograph, Vixen and the J.J. Johnson Foundation for putting together a great inaugural event that supports those in need, and a big thanks to everyone that came out to support the event and donate toys. The weather isn’t always great in December (even in California), but we know the kids who received these toys will be smiling. We’re looking forward to even bigger events in the years to come.