Partial demolition of Venice Circus Arena starts - WFLA News Channel 8

Partial demolition of Venice Circus Arena starts

Posted: Updated:
VENICE, FL (WFLA) -

A historic circus arena in Venice is slowly being torn down.

But for supporters this is actually a cause for celebration.

The facility was in was terrible shape, and as this demolition is giving it a chance at new life.

On a beautiful Wednesday morning, Tito Gaona is teaching the next generation how to fly.

"Kick it up!" he yells at a young flying trapeze artist.

He now runs a school to teach the craft.

He's a retired circus performer- the flying trapeze was his lifelong passion and he wowed crowds the world over.

His former training ground, the Venice Circus Arena, is being torn down. To him this is a beautiful sight.

Gaona said, "This is all bypass surgery. They got another chance to make it breathe and live."

From the 60s until the 90s, the Venice Circus Arena was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers circus.

But after the circus left town in 1992, the structure decayed. A few months ago, the city deemed it unsafe.

Now, work crews are carefully tearing it down through a 'surgical demolition'. That's where they'll remove the rotten wood and the roof, and leave the exposed steel structure.

Larry Ivey with the Venice Circus Arts Foundation said, "It's getting started, so we think we're on our way."

The Venice Circus Arts Foundation is raising money to set up an open air pavilion here. By putting on circus acts and concerts, they hope to collect enough funds to turn this plot of land into a major tourist attraction.

Ivey said, "Our big dream is to re-construct the arena and have it be an events center for the city of Venice."

Right now, workers have already torn down a nearby warehouse. They've also removed the roof of an animal training building.

There, famed animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams worked with lions and tigers.

They hope to restore the building into a museum.

Gaona recalls a big part of this city's history was tied to this plot of land.

He said, "You see the symbol…'Home of the Greatest Show on Earth, Venice Florida.' You couldn't buy that publicity. That's why it's a landmark and it should be preserved."

The arena supporters say the demolition work should be completed by October.

A number of different circus performers and sponsors have come forward to help raise money for a new arena.

So for Gaona, the future is looking bright. Not only is he helping tomorrow's circus performers, but he's also helping to give them a new home.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • TPD responds to story controversy surrounding police shooting

    TPD responds to story controversy surrounding police shooting

    Thursday, August 21 2014 12:48 PM EDT2014-08-21 16:48:17 GMT
    Jason TurkJason Turk
    An 8 On Your Side investigation into police shooting and the lack of Crisis Intervention Team training at the Tampa police department is not sitting well with T.P.D.Police spokesperson Laura McElroy sent an email to News Channel 8 management with the subject line labeled, "The Rest of the Story
    An 8 On Your Side investigation into police shooting and the lack of Crisis Intervention Team training at the Tampa police department is not sitting well with T.P.D.Police spokesperson Laura McElroy sent an email to News Channel 8 management with the subject line labeled, "The Rest of the Story
  • Verizon insists on seeing Town N' Country man's birth certificate for credit report error

    Verizon insists on seeing Town N' Country man's birth certificate for credit report error

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-08-20 21:26:13 GMT
    James Woolever was shocked to find a bad mark on his credit report. Especially since it was for an "outstanding balance" from a Verizon account opened in 1979. He knew that couldn't be right, because he was just 6 years old then.
    James Woolever was shocked to find a bad mark on his credit report. Especially since it was for an "outstanding balance" from a Verizon account opened in 1979. He knew that couldn't be right, because he was just 6 years old then.
  • Citrus Park property prompts code enforcement change

    Citrus Park property prompts code enforcement change

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 3:55 PM EDT2014-08-20 19:55:42 GMT
    Action today by Hillsborough county commissioners following an 8 On Your Side investigation.Commissioners voted unanimously to draw up an ordinance that will bring chronic code offenders before a judge in county court.For months now 8 On Your Side has documented the county's inability to deal with properties that are overgrown and piled with junk and pose possible health risks to neighbors.
    Action today by Hillsborough county commissioners following an 8 On Your Side investigation.Commissioners voted unanimously to draw up an ordinance that will bring chronic code offenders before a judge in county court.For months now 8 On Your Side has documented the county's inability to deal with properties that are overgrown and piled with junk and pose possible health risks to neighbors.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Target to extend store hours, hoping for younger shoppers

    Target to extend store hours, hoping for younger shoppers

    Thursday, August 21 2014 1:25 PM EDT2014-08-21 17:25:55 GMT
    Target to expand store hours, hoping to attract younger, late-night shoppersTarget to expand store hours, hoping to attract younger, late-night shoppers
    More than 900 Target stores across the country will be extending store hours in an effort to accommodate late night shoppers, including more than 70 Florida retail locations.Target says that's what customers want and may be a way to get younger shoppers back in the store.
    More than 900 Target stores across the country will be extending store hours in an effort to accommodate late night shoppers, including more than 70 Florida retail locations.Target says that's what customers want and may be a way to get younger shoppers back in the store.
  • TPD responds to story controversy surrounding police shooting

    TPD responds to story controversy surrounding police shooting

    Thursday, August 21 2014 12:48 PM EDT2014-08-21 16:48:17 GMT
    Jason TurkJason Turk
    An 8 On Your Side investigation into police shooting and the lack of Crisis Intervention Team training at the Tampa police department is not sitting well with T.P.D.Police spokesperson Laura McElroy sent an email to News Channel 8 management with the subject line labeled, "The Rest of the Story
    An 8 On Your Side investigation into police shooting and the lack of Crisis Intervention Team training at the Tampa police department is not sitting well with T.P.D.Police spokesperson Laura McElroy sent an email to News Channel 8 management with the subject line labeled, "The Rest of the Story
  • PSTA bus involved in head on crash in St. Pete

    PSTA bus involved in head on crash in St. Pete

    Thursday, August 21 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-08-21 16:05:47 GMT
    A PSTA bus was involved in a head on crash. A PSTA bus was involved in a head on crash.
    94th Avenue North in St. Petersburg will be closed from Gandy Blvd to Dr. Dr. M.L. King Street for the next several hours after a head-on crash between a PSTA bus and an Acura.
    94th Avenue North in St. Petersburg will be closed from Gandy Blvd to Dr. Dr. M.L. King Street for the next several hours after a head-on crash between a PSTA bus and an Acura.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.