Produced by Kendall & Mark • 12/21/22

👋 Happy Wednesday, where we have a couple of updates for you, then we'll be off for a week or so as we recharge from a busy 2022. First off, an app we told you about that Desert Hot Springs launched needs a name for its avatar. Go here to help the city do that. Secondly, our friends at the Palm Desert Certified Farmers' Market want to remind you that because Christmas and New Year's Day both fall on a Sunday, the market will not be in operation on those days. Look for its return on Jan. 8.

  • From us to you, happy holidays and a joyous new year!

☀️ Outlook: Speaking of Christmas, it looks like we might receive the gift of temperatures in the 80s that day. The rest of the week doesn't look that bad, either. 

🎶 Setting the Mood: "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" by Ella Fitzgerald

First things first: The power of sisterhood

Members of the Sunshine Sisters pause during an outing in La Quinta earlier this year. (Photo: Catherine Darras)

What started as a few dozen women planning three or four events a month has now blossomed into a few hundred women planning three or four events a day throughout the Coachella Valley. 

Driving the news: Meet the Sunshine Sisters. The group was formed at the start of the pandemic, offering nearly 400 women in the valley opportunities to socialize and give back to multiple charities.

  • Mary Miller founded the group in June 2021. Because she moved to the Coachella Valley in November 2019, she only experienced about four months of pre-pandemic desert life. As the lonely months cooped up in her house wore on, she started missing female companionship.  

How it happened: She started a social group on the app NextDoor, then moved to the platform MeetUp after gaining some interest. Volunteers help organize and plan many of the outings.

  • Outings include everything from fitness-related activities to fine dining. Community service projects are also important to the group; they participate in at least one per quarter.

Worth noting: The women help the community as well as one another. “I think women, by nature, are supportive,” Miller said.

  • When she was having a tough time earlier this year, she said, members of the group routinely called or visited to check in, sometimes bringing her cards and meals. 

From the beginning, Miller was intentional about making sure the group was inclusive. One of the group’s policies is not to save seats for friends. If someone new shows up and is turned away from a seat at the table, they may never return, she said. 

Why it’s important: There’s evidence suggesting that there may have been a calculable increase in loneliness, which could bring along a host of problems for our mental and even physical health. Researchers aren’t going so far as to call it a “loneliness pandemic” but they do warn of future negative outcomes. 

  • If you’re feeling lonely, Miller knows one of the scariest things to do can be reaching out. “Everybody has fears,” she said. “Don’t let your fears stop you from trying something new.”

More information: You can find The Sunshine Sisters on Meetup here.

Read Maria Sestito’s full story here.

Next up: An arena is born

Acrisure Arena opened last week, hosting not only concerts but professional hockey. (Photo courtesy Coachella Valley Firebirds)

Unless you completely avoid all other media, you may not have heard we now have a brand new arena in the valley. Acrisure Arena opened to the public last week to rave reviews. Read on for how it all went down.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, the arena kicked off its sold out inaugural week with its first performance, a comedy show featuring Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. The next two nights featured the Doobie Brothers, then Grupo Firme.

  • On Sunday night, the valley’s first professional hockey team, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, won their first home game 4-3 in front of a packed house. The Firebirds are the American Hockey League affiliate to Seattle’s National Hockey League team, the Kraken.

Background: The 11,000-capacity $500 million dollar venue is located on about 40 acres of unincorporated land north of Interstate 10 near the Cook Street exit. Construction of the arena began about a year and a half ago.

What happened: The opening week was not without hiccups. Wednesday night, hundreds of vehicles crowded onto Varner Road amidst a parking nightmare. Once the main parking lot was full, attendees had to park about two miles away at Xavier College Preparatory High School and then wait for a shuttle to bus them to the venue. 

  • For Thursday night’s Doobie Brothers show, attendees had to pre-pay for parking (almost $40 after tax) in order to access the main lot. Everyone else would be directed to the Xavier lot.

What to look forward to: The arena promises to provide high-quality entertainment for the valley in the form of concerts, comedy shows, hockey games, NBA and college basketball games, and more.

But wait: Locals will also get the chance to try out the ice. The Berger Foundation Iceplex officially opened on Monday and is offering child and adult skating and hockey classes and public skating opportunities.


Last minute holiday shopping? The Best Bookstore In Palm Spring has you covered

With new titles arriving every day, the Best Bookstore in Palm Springs is the perfect one-stop shop for your last minute holiday gifts. Don’t know what they’d like? We have gift cards available for any amount. Visit us at 180 E Tahquitz Canyon Way, or shop online at

🗞️ In other news ...

🔥 A mulch fire in Thousand Palms blanketed the valley in smoke over the weekend. (NBC Palm Springs)

👮 Results of an internal investigation, requested by The Desert Sun, show others who were present felt a beating administered by a Cathedral City officer in 2020 was unnecessary. (CV Reporter)

🏗️ The Talus La Quinta project will miss its latest completion deadline and is being retooled to stay economically viable. (KESQ)

🏈 Desert Hot Springs High School has a new football coach. (Yahoo Sports)

📅 See & do

Want to do your part to "bite back" against food waste? Submit your best "doggie bag" design in a contest from the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery by the end of this month. The winning design will be featured on recyclable paper to-go bags at participating Cathedral City restaurants, and the winning artist will receive a $100 gift card to a local restaurant of their choosing. 

Details: Visit the S.C.R.A.P. Gallery's website for more details about how to submit your design, and make sure to enter by Dec. 31.

📌 Also coming up

Winter ZooCamp
Today and tomorrow | 8:30 a.m. | The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Designed for the budding naturalists ages five to 13, Winter ZooCamp aims to "foster an appreciation for the natural world."

World Giraffe Day
Today | 8 a.m. | The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
World Giraffe Day isn't officially celebrated until June 21, but The Living Desert is celebrating the tallest animal on the shortest day of the year: Dec. 21. Guests will be able to go into the giraffe habitat while the animals are off-habitat.

Family Movie Night: "Elf"
Today | 3 p.m. | Desert Hot Springs Library
Enjoy the classic holiday movie ''Elf'' with popcorn and crafts.

Dinner with Patsi
Tonight | 5 p.m. | El Portal Mexican Restaurant
Donations from the event will go towards the Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City. Walk-ins are welcome but reservations are recommended. 

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Tonight and tomorrow | 7:30 p.m. | Desert Theatreworks, Indio
This holiday season, Desert Theatreworks is bringing the merry with this musical stage adaptation of the beloved 1954 holiday film.

Community Gift Giveaway
Thursday and Friday | 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. | Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City
To attend and receive a gift, sign up by calling (760) 324-5844. Youth must be present to choose their gift. 

Christmas Tree Decoration
Thursday | 5:30 p.m. | Desert Hot Springs Library
Make and decorate your own delicious ice cream cone Christmas trees.

PS Rewinds, Not Another Christmas Movie: “Die Hard”
Thursday | 8 p.m. | Palm Springs Cultural Center
Spice up your holiday season with a dash of murder and mayhem, courtesy of Palm Springs Rewinds. This week's movie: “Die Hard."

Sunset Sessions with Whitney Lyman
Friday | 3:30 p.m. | The Gardens on El Paseo, Palm Desert
This two-hour show is free to the public, and features music from the 1960s all the way to today’s greatest hits.

Celebrate CV on El Paseo
Dec. 30 | 5 p.m. | 73545 El Paseo, Palm Desert
Enjoy a free community event on El Paseo between Larkspur and San Pablo, featuring music from the one and only Jordin Sparks. There will also be food trucks, bars, games and activities. 

WildLights at The Living Desert
Select dates this month | The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
If you haven't gone yet, you still have the chance to see the zoo's annual "magical winter wonderland" on select dates until the end of the month. 

Magic of Lights
Many dates this month | Empire Polo Club, Indio
Until Jan. 1, enjoy this dazzling, drive-through holiday lights experience, featuring holiday scenes and characters using the latest LED technology and digital animations.

And finally ...

Rep. Raul Ruiz speaks about Sy Kaplan on the floor of the U.S> House of Representatives.

President Joe Biden signed a bill into law this week that will rename the Veterans Affairs clinic in Palm Desert in honor of a local military hero.

Driving the news: President Biden signed H.R. 7925, sponsored by Rep. Raul Ruiz, into law on Tuesday. The bill now designates the VA clinic as the Sy Kaplan VA Clinic.

Background: The late Seymour “Sy” Kaplan was a local veteran and advocate who passed away in 2019. He earned three Battle Stars and two Purple Heart medals during his service. He also served as the Coachella Valley's Disabled American Veterans chapter commander.

What they’re saying: “I can think of no better way to honor his legacy than to ensure his name is forever etched into our desert's history at a place where our veterans receive quality care.'' Ruiz said on Nov. 15, when he celebrated House passage of the bipartisan bill. “When his military service ended, his service to our veterans began."

What to watch for: The House also recently passed two bills to rename two local post offices in honor of valley veterans.

🌌 Kendall gets emotionally attached to inanimate spacecraft like this Mars lander.  

🥡 Mark is resolving to no longer use the pandemic as an excuse for his weight gain.

📝 Miss a week? Read past newsletters here.

📣 Want to reach thousands with your message? Email us here.

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