Taco Tuesday is a popular event in Canyon Lake. Honestly, how many cities hold a party for the entire community – every week – all summer long!?
But how did this party get started?
Back in the late 80s, while vacationing at “the River” in Parker, Arizona, Canyon Lake residents Lee and Marti Norris went to the Sports Valley Restaurant for dinner. Marti enjoyed $1 tacos from the restaurant’s “Taco Thursday” menu and discovered that it was a weekly event to use up the leftovers from Wednesday’s roast beef special.
Marti soon took the idea to chef Mark Hartman at what is now the Lighthouse Restaurant about having Taco Thursdays in Canyon Lake. The idea, according to Marti, appeared to have been shoved aside and forgotten.
When Mark didn’t take action on her idea, Marti brought it up several more times until he finally relented and said he’d give it a try. The POA agreed and approved the idea. Mark decided to go with Tuesday rather than Thursday since, apparently, “Taco Tuesdays” were just starting to pop up in a few Mexican restaurants and it seemed like a better day.
In the beginning, Taco Tuesday meant simply cheap tacos at the Lodge,. By Summer 1990, it had already become a popular event. It wasn’t long before it grew too large and had to be moved outside to accommodate the ever-growing crowds. As the years passed, Taco Tuesdays became bigger and even more popular.
In 1995, Mike Shroyer of Good Time Entertainment was asked by former Lodge Manager Carolyn Ziu to deejay at Taco Tuesdays. Mike signed on, saying he wanted to bring a resort-type feel and more entertainment to the event.
Over the years Mike has become as much a part of Taco Tuesdays as the tacos. With his dance contests, trivia, games and music, many have said “Mike makes Taco Tuesday.” Watching him entertain and interact, especially with the children, it’s obvious he truly enjoys being there.”I love the way the families of Canyon Lake come together” at Taco Tuesdays,” he says.
Taco Tuesdays have become something very special and unique in Canyon Lake, according to many who attend as often as four times monthly. As one woman put it, “Where else is there a city that throws a big party for its residents, every week for the whole summer? This is a good example of life in Canyon Lake!”
The tacos are still only $1, but today’s event is a far cry from those early days 25 years ago. Where there were just a few people, there are now hundreds – every week. What began as a promotion inside the Lodge now includes the Lodge patio and all of Sunset Beach.
Several other food choices as well as drinks and desserts have been added, and there are other popular summer favorites such as cotton candy and Hawaiian shave ice. A kid zone with bounce house and water slide have been a part of Taco Tuesday the last few years. There are even a few venders.
Beach volleyball is fun to join in or to just sit on the sand and cheer. Swimming in the lake and pool also is popular. Mike’s music, dance contests and games add a huge element of fun – both as a participant and as a spectator.
Here are some of the games Mike has been doing this summer: “Just Dance” video contest, Newlywed Game, Name That Tune, Hula Hoop Contest, Disk Shoot and Catch, Shoe Game (couples answering questions about themselves) and Pass the Fork Contest.
But most attendees agree that by far the best part of Taco Tuesday is the people; families and friends joining together to celebrate life and have a good time with others in the cool of a summer’s eve.
There is one large group of friends from the Senior Chair Volleyball Club that has been staking out a spot on the beach at every Taco Tuesday for years now. They usually bring food and drinks to share, as well as buying food inside the Lodge.
The weather is pretty predictable most of the summer; but two extremes this year created a couple of predicaments for organizers. There was a rainout one Tuesday when the food service had to be moved upstairs in the Lodge and the kid zone and entertainment got cancelled.
The other extreme is the Stage 4 drought, which has resulted in the Association banning all fountains, water slides and water toys in the common areas of the community. That means the water slide in the kid zone will soon be a dry slide, according to ABC Bounce owner Roanne Grasso. Roanne coordinates the kid zone and snack shack.
There haven’t been any reports of major disturbances so far this year, thanks to the presence of Riverside Sheriffs and Securitas officers patrolling the grounds.
This iconic Canyon Lake event is held every Tuesday, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Parking can be challenging, so there is a free golf cart shuttle service from 4:30 to 9 p.m. that picks up and drops off Lodge entry and on the Lighthouse and Canyon Club loop.
It’s fun to think about what Taco Tuesday will look like 25 years from now – and whether those kids dancing in front of Mike’s video screen will bring their own kids to Taco Tuesday.