Robolights in Palm Springs


In a quiet residential neighborhood near downtown Palm Springs, a quirky and unusual art installation comes to life during the holiday season. Known as “Robolights,” the exhibit has alternately fascinated and irritated the public over the past three decades. As the name implies, Robolights is a combination of holiday lights and various forms of robotics: moveable displays of strange and bizarre objects, ranging from plastic aliens to broken microwaves to dragon ships. Odd sculptures and enormous inflatables also contribute to the extravaganza, making Robolights a must-see destination for many during the holidays.

Kenny Irwin Jr., the creator and artist behind Robolights, recently settled a year-long lawsuit with the City of Palm Springs regarding this year’s holiday display. The primary complaints regarding Robolights consisted of grievances voiced by Irwin’s neighbors on Granvia Valmonte, site of the Irwin home and the location of Robolights. They were upset with the large crowds descending upon their neighborhood, as they brought noise, traffic, and parking problems with them. Many of the sightseers also left their garbage behind, which upset the local residents. Specifically, the City last year launched a civil lawsuit against Irwin stating that two of the giant inflatables on his roof were potentially unstable and a possible “life hazard” to the members of the public. A Riverside County judge dismissed the argument and denied the City a restraining order for that lawsuit.

The current settlement, while not released in full, is considered fair toward both the City of Palm Springs and Kenny Irwin. According to Ben Mehdian, lawyer for Irwin, the settlement allows the City to hire a third-party vendor to deal with the parking and traffic issues connected to Robolights. Irwin will reimburse the City for these expenditures. Additionally, Palm Springs City Attorney Ed Kotkin revealed that the settlement provides a framework for how Robolights will be managed in the future, including the aforementioned parking, traffic, crowd, and garbage issues. Guidelines regarding the times that Robolights can be operational were included in the settlement as well. Overall, both lawyers seem satisfied that both the City of Palm Springs and Robolights can continue their relationship in a constructive and productive manner that is fair and balanced for all.

For his part, Kenny Irwin Jr. is happy to continue working on his inventive and fanciful handiworks. He uses donated, recycled, and the occasionally purchased-from-eBay materials to create an amazing world for all to enjoy.



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