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Friday, November 4, 2011

Santa Anita Park to host Circus Vargas


Circus Vargas will be coming to Santa Anita Park for the first time from Nov. 24 through Dec. 5. (Courtesy photo)

Pasadena Star News

By Brenda Gazzar, Staff Writer

Posted: 11/02/2011

ARCADIA - Circus Vargas will be coming to Santa Anita Park for the first time this fall.
The City Council on Tuesday granted the animal-free circus a use permit to bring its big-top tent to the racetrack's southwest parking lot for an 11-day run starting Thanksgiving Day.
"As far as I know, this is a first for having a circus on our grounds," said Pete Siberell, who is Santa Anita's director of community service and special projects.
"The timing worked out well as we don't have a lot going on in our lots during the holiday season. And it's kind of a test run for us in the event we want to host a larger show like Cirque du Soleil or Cavalia in the future."
The circus provides animal-free entertainment, lighting and music - all inside its 147-foot diameter blue and gold big top tent.
The circus will not bring in a lot of revenue to Santa Anita Park. However, there could potentially be more revenue involved with Cirque de Soleil and its equestrian equivalent, Cavalia, since there could be some "cross-promotion" opportunities with those audiences, Siberell said.
The City Council in September approved expanding the kinds of outdoor events allowed at the racetrack and in the adjacent parking lot areas, including concerts, carnivals and farmers markets. The council is still required to approve any special event held for more than five days.
Shows will start Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day, and end Dec. 5. The length of each show is about 90 minutes and is expected to draw between 300 and 500 people each performance.
Circus Vargas Locations Director Mark Landon said the circus was excited to find a stage in the western San Gabriel Valley since "we do well with the a more upscale audience," he said.
While many other circuses travel around Southern California - including those from Central America and Mexico - they tend to hit a different audience, he said.
In addition, "we always like a location that has name recognition," he said. "You say Santa Anita Park, everyone in Southern California will know exactly where that is. We like locations that have a certain amount of traffic and visibility."
The show has a cast of about 25 employees, who travel with their families, a school teacher and a school house. There will be a show every evening during its Arcadia run with added afternoon shows on weekends.
The current edition of Circus Vargas, which includes aerialists, acrobats and comedians, takes spectators on "an artistic journey, encompassing the cultures of the world" in a series of vignettes depicting a traveling circus performer, according to Circus Vargas.
The circus will not have mechanical rides, games of chance and alcohol will not be sold or served, according to city documents.
"It's a family show, perfect for parents and little kids," Landon said.

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