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Magic Carpet Golf torch still burning

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A crowd raises their phones and drinks in celebration of the unveiling of the new tiki head at The Hut on Saturday, Aug. 29. Many people who knew the tiki head from the Magic Carpet mini-golf course that closed in 2008 came to see its dedication at its new permanent home at The Hut on 4th Avenue. Lisa Beth Earle/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

What is 40 feet tall, over 55,000 pounds and looks like it just came in from Easter Island?

If you were one of many people at The Hut, 305 N. Fourth Ave., Saturday night, you would know that it could be the large tiki head which was unveiled there.


The tiki head was salvaged from Magic Carpet Golf, a former locally owned miniature golf course that was a Tucson favorite for over 30 years.

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Magic Carpet Golf closed in January 2008, but has not been forgotten by locals, who still remember it from their youth.


Dirk Nelson, a 32-year-old personal trainer, said he has history with the tiki. ""I've made out with girls on the top of the head when I was 13 or 14,"" he said.


Because the tiki is the only one of its kind on Fourth Avenue, Nelson said, it could attract both locals who know the story behind it and visitors who are seeing it for the first time.


Nelson said he donated a few hundred dollars of his own money to transfer the tiki to The Hut.


Charlie Spillar, a local Tucson business owner, acquired a number of statues from Magic Carpet Golf after it closed its doors. The tiki was too large for his uses, he said, but he wanted to preserve what he saw as an important local icon. Spillar arranged publicity for the tiki and eventually offered it free of cost to The Hut.


It cost $60-$80,000 to take the tiki down, move it to the parking lot and erect it, said The Hut operator and 1988 UA alumnus Doug Finical, 45. Finical said it took 18 months for him to raise money for the statue, with support from private donations, benefits and community members.


""Fourth Ave. is one of the few places you could move something like this and not offend neighbors,"" Finical, a longtime tiki collector and self-described ""aficionado,"" said.


Finical said he is extremely excited to unveil the newest addition to The Hut. He will not be happy when the party is over, he said.


Kenny Wheels, 53, ran the sound for the musicians and performers from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

""I went to bed early, took my vitamins, and I'm good to go,"" said the part-time musician. ""It's going to be wall-to-wall tonight,"" he said, adding that The Hut has been testing different light schemes and working with a generator that will shoot gas up in the air from the head of the tiki.


Twenty-five-year-old Evy Llyayn, who goes by her stage name Petite Fantome, performed at the event.


Her melodious voice caught the attention of locals at the bar, many of whom were unable to keep their eyes off of her as she performed. She played a three-quarter cherry wood guitar, the first one she ever bought, from New York.


""We've been waiting forever to get this thing up and running,"" she said of the tiki. ""I hope it brings some business and I think it's gonna be a wild night.""


Couples at the event danced to the music and drank huge cocktails in fishbowls while wearing colorful Hawaiian shirts and straw hats.


Several people at the event said they wouldn't miss the unveiling for the world and recalled playing golf at Magic Carpet Golf when it was still open.


At about 8 p.m. Flam Chen, a pyrotechnic theatre troupe, performed before a jam-packed house.


The performers captivated the crowd with decorative colored masks, flaming batons and a synchronized dance.


""I kind of feel like the last 15 minutes before an exam,"" Finical said. ""I've done everything I could, offering to the tiki gods and Tucsonans alike.""


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Daily (10/22)
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Includes tests since August 2, 2021
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Updated October 22, 2021