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The Secret’s Out: Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens Honored as “Hidden Gems” by Visit California

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Jane Howard, Executive Director
Gilroy Welcome Center
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The Secret’s Out: Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens Honored as “Hidden Gems” by Visit California

April 18, 2017 (Gilroy, CA): Visit California, the official state travel and tourism organization, recently recognized the Circus Trees at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park as one of eight “Hidden Gems” in California. The park is featured in a special video filmed by Time Inc. that will be promoted through Visit California’s media channels the week of April 24, 2017.

Visit California’s video focuses on the Circus Trees, a unique collection of sycamores, box elders, ash and Spanish cork trees that were originally grown and shaped into whimsical designs by Swedish immigrant Axel Erlandson starting in the 1920s. The trees gained some fame during Erlandson’s lifetime, but were neglected after his death. In 1984, Michael Bonfante rescued the trees from their home in Scotts Valley, carefully transporting them over the mountains and transplanting them at what is now Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. Today, 19 of the trees can be found throughout the park, including the iconic “Basket Tree” (which is actually six Sycamores woven together) as well as others like “Double Hearts,” “Zig Zag,” “The Arch,” and “The Four-Legged Giant.”

Barb Granter, General Manager at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, says, “We are thrilled to be named one of California’s ‘Hidden Gems’! This is an incredible honor, and we’re especially happy to bring attention to the amazing Circus Trees. These living masterpieces are testament to the creative mind of Axel Erlandson as well as the passion and vision of our founder, Michael Bonfante. They are at the heart of what makes our park so special and unique.”

Each week the Visit California website spotlights a different region’s Hidden Gem, taking visitors on a “virtual road trip” across the Golden State. Gilroy Gardens was selected to represent the Central Coast region. Other “Hidden Gems” in the series include Point Arena (North Coast), Murphys (Gold Country), Lake Almanor (Shasta Cascade), Anza-Borrego (Desert), Bakersfield (Central Valley), Big Bear Lake (Inland Empire), and the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway (High Sierra).

To view the Visit California “Hidden Gems” series, go to www.visitcalifornia.com/dream365tv/series/hidden-gems.