Robolights 101 / Kenny's World
Basically, Robolights is a giant art installation with millions of lights and hundreds of giant creatures from various folklores and movies, as well as Christmas and cartoon characters that fill a two-acre residential lot in Palm Springs’ Movie Colony neighbourhood. The work of artist Kenny Irwin Jr., it is billed as the largest, most spectacular residential light display in America, perhaps the entire world.”
What began in 1986 as a 9-year old boy’s dream has become Kenny’s altered reality (he still lives in the family house year-round surrounded by his installation). He has built on almost every available square centimeter of the homestead – his childhood sandbox, the tennis court, the pool and the even the roof of the house.
His first piece was a 10-foot tall wooden creature with a 1940s phone coming out of its chest. Since then, he has continued to work on the display year-round using donated junk from friends and strangers (e.g. when a local casino was upgrading the slot machines, they donated all the electronic equipment and some old machines), as well as purchasing things on EBay.
Ironically while it is called Robolights, there are no real robots in the show and Irwin doesn’t even celebrate Christmas, having converted to Islamic many years ago.
Visitors are welcome year-round by donation, but it really comes alive from Thanksgiving to the first week of January when extra lights are added to make it more Christmassy. During this time it is open from 4 to 9:30 pm, donations are option and you can also donate a toy for children in need.
Robolights has captured national and international attention over the years, attracting 20,000 people last year. But, Robolights almost didn’t happen this year as the City of Palm Springs was concerned the two enormous inflatables on the roof of the house could blow off and damage houses, cars or people on the streets.