The Tree Circus and “Gilroy Gardens”

Circus TreeIt’s official: Everything sucks. The Cool family is planning a getaway to the Scotts Valley/Santa Cruz area, and I was excited to take my crew to see The Tree Circus, which as a kid I dragged my family to see once. Basically, this was a quaint little garden full of trees shaped into funny sculptures, as you can see at right. Tee hee. My recollection is that I was ridiculed for taking the whole family to see a bunch of braided trees, but I’m sure my family would rather braid their own eyeballs than witness what has become of my beloved Tree Circus…

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Gilroy Gardens. What was once a quirky ’40s roadside attraction is now a full blown theme park, complete with a rip-roaringly hilarious “cool garlic” mascot. A daily pass costs friggen $30. Okay, maybe I’m being a little harsh, the gardens look cool and I know the kids would love it.

I will definitely not be Googling up the Mystery Spot website for fear that they have done it up with a LOST tie-in or something… Please tell me Mystery Spot still kickin’ it old school roadside attraction style?

Here’s a great story on Alex Erlandson, the creator of the Tree Circus. They don’t make people like that anymore.

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

4 thoughts on “The Tree Circus and “Gilroy Gardens””

  1. Geez, besides commercializing the whole area with rides, etc, they actually transplanted the trees from their original location! I understand your grief.


  2. I seem to remember Mrs. Cool and I being taken to the Hershey Park gift store and chocolate museum in lieu of the actual theme park. As I recall we totally loved it. Perhaps such a compromise could be arranged in this case? Though I agree, it’s totally lame to see this attraction corrupted in this way!


  3. Hey, I loved it when it was Bonfonte Gardens. The guy from Nob Hills Markets invested all of his money to make Bonfonte Gardens. He literally saved the trees from being cut down and had them moved to where they are now. He knew he had to add more attractions so he made a theme park. I went the first year he opened. It was lovely. They played classical music, had guides to explain the trees, incredible gardens, and some calm rides like a swan ride in the river. He even tried to have really good food, like fresh juices and no sodas. I don’t know if he went belly-up but I know that they really struggled. No one got it. I don’t know what it is now but it really was like a throw back to a park in the 50’s. If we lived closer to Gilroy we would have been regulars.


  4. I used to work there back when it was called “Hecker Pass Family Adventure”. The place catered mostly to large company picnics (think HP, Intel, etc) and was a fun place to work. Back then (mid 90’s) Michael Bonfante had just started to construct the Theme Park part of the park. He’s a little eccentric, but the grounds were beautiful. Heck, we even had a pumpkin launching contest there in H.S. – our physics team won eventhough we almost killed some people with a miss fire. Good times.


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