visit Quartzsite in the winter this desert hole becomes the 2rd largest city in arizona!!!!
Quartzsite pays tribute to wild boy Hi Jolly By Marija Potkonjak, Tribune January 6, 2006
Hi Jolly, the camel driver who helped put Quartzsite on the map, loved wine and women. His exploits were even immortalized in a song, "Hi Jolly," by folk singer Randy Sparks.
Thats why it was so difficult for some town leaders to initially accept Hi Jolly as a symbol for Quartzsite. Richard Oldham, a Quartzite businessman who was elected mayor for three consecutive terms, convinced them otherwise.
"Thats the beauty of him," says Oldham. "He was colorful. He was a wild boy. So we did our best to make him famous."
The residents of Quartzsite will fete their mascot during Hi Jolly Daze on Saturday. The festivities will include a parade, barbecue and live entertainment.
Hi Jollys real name was Hadji Ali (the soldiers he traveled with couldnt say his name). He came to the United States in 1856 with 33 camels at the request of the U.S. Army. Jefferson Davis, then secretary of war and later president of the confederacy, wanted to see if camels could be used as pack animals in the Southwest desert.
When the experiment failed some say the camels spooked the cavalry horses, others say the camels hooves were too soft for the rocky terrain Ali kept a few camels for himself and became a guide for the army and an occasional prospector. He died in 1902 in Quartzsite.
Today a pyramid of quartz and petrified wood topped by a tin camel marks his grave in the Quartzsite cemetery. Millions of people have stopped at the monument to pay their respects to Hi Jolly.
"Everyone wants to stop and see it," says Tiny Loyet, a resident of Quartzsite for 12 years. "Last year we had 2 million people stop through."
Sometimes a gullible tourist will stop and ask if there are any wild camels roaming the desert.
"Thats pretty much an old wives tale," says Oldham. "Ive never in all my 65 years in Quartzsite ever seen a camel out in the desert."
Hi Jolly Daze
What: Tribute festival to Quartzsites most famous resident When: Noon Saturday Where: Downtown Quartzsite Cost: Free Information: (928) 927-5600 or www.quartzsitechamber.com
Contact Marija Potkonjak by email, or phone (480) 898-6818