150 Boise icons: Cabana Inn's red hat

awebb@idahostatesman.comMay 24, 2013 

0524-local-icon cabana.JPG

Did you know? The Cabana’s red hat has other doppelgangers nearby besides Rick Friesen’s mural. Artist Veronica Hollingshead painted a version of the hat on the hotel’s back wall in 2010. A sign on Main Street not far from the hotel also pictures the famous hat and the words “Copa Cabana Inn.” Stand in the middle of 16th Street, you can see three of the four hats at one time.

ANNA WEBB — awebb@idahostatesman.com

A list of the distinctive - some would say quirky - oversized objects that make up the Boise skyline includes the washer woman and giant diamond ring on Vista Avenue; the prancing white horse at Main and 6th; and the Spanish red bolero that for decades has floated over the Cabana Inn - boasting the presence of RCA color TVs.

Raja Patel bought the hotel 10 years ago. He lives on-site in a small apartment attached to the office. A statuette of Ganesh, the elephant-headed deity, sits on the front desk. On a recent afternoon, the office was filled with the aroma of home-cooked food.

Patel has fielded inquiries from people who have wanted to buy the Cabana's iconic sign. They've offered thousands of dollars, said Patel. They've changed their minds when he's told them they would have to build him a new sign if they took the old one.

Patel isn't sure how long the hat has stood at the corner of Main and 16th Streets. He does remember when the multicolored tassels on the hat used to flash on and off in sequence.

Patel hired artist Rick Friesen to paint the mural on the hotel's east wall in 2007. Friesen went to the Boise Depot to get a good sense of Boise's urban terrain before starting his painting. He took some artistic license and placed the bolero front and center.

"Drive through Boise, you can't really miss the Cabana's sign," Friesen said.

1600 Main St.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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