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.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Deputies arrest one in Manatee movie theater shooting, 1 suspect still sought

    Deputies arrest one in Manatee movie theater shooting, 1 suspect still sought

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:39 PM EDT2014-07-29 01:39:54 GMT
    The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says a large fight outside a movie theater led to the death of a Sarasota teen.
    The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says a large fight outside a movie theater led to the death of a Sarasota teen.
  • Small plane crash on Fla. beach: 1 dead, 1 injured

    Small plane crash on Fla. beach: 1 dead, 1 injured

    Monday, July 28 2014 4:06 PM EDT2014-07-28 20:06:32 GMT
    dA father was killed and his 9-year-old daughter critically injured Sunday while walking along a Florida beach when a small plane crash landed on the Gulf Coast only feet from the surf, authorities said.
    dA father was killed and his 9-year-old daughter critically injured Sunday while walking along a Florida beach when a small plane crash landed on the Gulf Coast only feet from the surf, authorities said.
  • Brooksville man sets fire to neighbor's home over curb appeal, police say

    Brooksville man sets fire to neighbor's home over curb appeal, police say

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:54 PM EDT2014-07-29 01:54:16 GMT
    A man is accused of starting fire to his neighbor's home because he wasn't pleased with it's curb appeal.
    A man is accused of starting fire to his neighbor's home because he wasn't pleased with it's curb appeal.
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.