The circus is coming to town. Sort of.
Plaza Vera Cruz will soon be home to the Santa Barbara Trapeze Co.
“We are very excited to open at Plaza Vera Cruz, and to make it our permanent home, said co-owner Randy Kohn. “The park is stunning. It is green. It is lush. It is right in the center of downtown,”
Kohn expects to open May 22.
Santa Barbara Trapeze currently sets up at Earl Warren Showgrounds. The city plans to evaluate the success of the program at the end of December 2021, and possibly expand it to other city park locations.
Kohn said the company wants to be closer to the “metropolitan” area.
“They have a really good program there,” said Rich Hanna, city recreation director. “They make it welcoming for people, whether you are a spectator or a participant. It’s really well done. It’s going to be great for Santa Barbara.”
This summer, the company will also offer summer camps, and scholarships for some kids.
“The summer camp is a great way for us to tap into the community and offer flying trapeze and circus arts to the children of Santa Barbara,” Kohn said.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission recently approved the idea.
A la carte classes will be offered, as well as corporate development and team-building exercises.
Kohn, a trained circus performer, said the activity is “a really great way to face your fear of heights.”
“It creates a healthy relationship with risk, in a really controlled and safe way,” Kohn said. “It is a ton of fun, and it is great exercise.”
The park has long been a staple for family use in downtown Santa Barbara, between Haley and Cota streets. But it also attract the homeless, loiters and day squatters and drug users.
In 2018, 4-year-old boy was pricked by a discarded hypodermic needle that he found on the park’s play structure. The city has since closed off the park and removed the playground equipment.
“We’re looking at promoting positive recreational programming in the park,” Hannah said.
Some off the commission members said the trapeze activities will engage the park with the community.
“The community is already excluded from this park because of the misuse,” said Commissioner Nichol Clark. “This is not excluding people. It is actually going to be inclusive of our community. Right now it’s not really a safe place for people or families to hang out. There’s not a lot of active recreating happening there and that’s what our parks are for.”
Others were very enthusiastic.
“I want to get up on the trapeze,” said Commissioner Roger Perry. “I think it is the coolest thing that has come to town.”
Kohn said it will be the largest outdoor circus program in the United States.
“We’re so excited to be continuing to build in our community,” Kohn said. ” We are excited to meet more and more residents of Santa Barbara, and we look forward to helping them experience flight.”