Grand opening celebration held for tribal members
■ By Mike Hiles / Contributed
March 12 was an important day for the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians as it marked the next development of the Soboba Casino Resort – its Event Center. It was unveiled for the Tribal Members Grand Opening Celebration that attracted more than 1,000 guests.
The evening was a gathering of the community to celebrate its collective accomplishment of opening a destination venue that includes a casino with 474,000 square feet of interior space on 37.5 acres, a six-story 200-room hotel, the PGA rated Par:72 Soboba Springs Golf Course and several restaurants.
This was the first time that everything was being tested before a true audience: the sound system, lighting, kitchen, staff and everything else that supports this marvelous event center.
“It was a pleasure to see everyone so happy during the event,” said Michael Starr, Soboba Casino Resort General Manager. “To have everything go so well on this first night and see the tribal members enjoying everything was tremendously rewarding.”
Walking down the hallway to the event center’s registration area, guests were treated to a visual timeline that highlights important dates to the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians from 15,000 B.C. to the present.
The Soboba Cultural Department began working on the timeline in early December and it was completed the last week of February, just in time for the first special occasion at the Event Center.
“The biggest challenge that we faced in getting the timeline completed for the grand opening was not only the limited time frame but also the amount of time and effort devoted to conducting extensive research to recreating the tribe’s pre-existing timeline,” Cultural Resource Specialist Jessica Valdez said.
Working closely with Robert Silent-Thunder, Senior Graphic Specialist for the Soboba Casino Resort Marketing Department, the Cultural Department provided the necessary text and photographs used to tell the tribe’s story on huge panels that line the hallway of the center.
“There isn’t one aspect that we like best about the timeline, as it is a piece that speaks volumes in its entirety and when looked at as a whole,” Cultural Resource Analyst Maria Lopez said. “Cultural Department staff was honored to have been included in the process of assisting the tribe in telling their story and bringing their vision to fruition.”
The center can be configured in several ways to accommodate conferences, meetings, concerts, banquets and many other uses. The main ballroom can be divided into four smaller rooms, each with a Luiseño language name for identification purposes. They are: Exla (earth), Hungla (wind), Kut (fire) and Pala (water). The meeting rooms are numbered Supul (one), Weh (two) and Paahay (three).
The grand opening celebration included a red-carpet entry for photo opportunities, entertainment from comedian Fluffy and a music concert by War that was held in the Cabaret Lounge of the casino and open only to guests 21 and older.
Upon arrival, each member was given a goody bag that included a commemorative silver coin and coin display case, numerous Soboba Casino Resort branded items and a USB drive with the tribe’s logo on it, loaded with a copy of the Soboba Heritage video.
Tribal members and their guests were treated to a buffet dinner of seafood, meats, poultry and fresh vegetables. About 200 stayed overnight in the new hotel.
“We received great feedback; the event was widely perceived as a glorious night to remember,” said Catie Stanley, Marketing Coordinator for Soboba Casino Resort.