Waller Park History: Monkeys and peacocks and a bear, oh my! | Lifestyles

ByTommie C. Curtis

May 22, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One particular of the most attractive parks in Santa Barbara County, if not the condition, Waller Park originated with 77.29 acres of land obtained from the Santa Maria Golfing and Place Club in June 1927 when 15 administrators and stockholders of the club agreed to provide fifty percent of its land to the county for use as a foreseeable future county park. Today, the park has due to the fact elevated in dimensions to about 200 acres.

The Waller Park of currently took numerous decades of challenging perform to bring untold elegance to an place that had when been a windswept spot of sand dunes and wild sage brush. This elegance can mark its commencing in 1942 when Eddie Neal of the County Highway Office available a Casmalia farmer Tony Estacio $5 a working day to consider to make a park out of a tangle of undergrowth and fallen tree limbs. Estacio recognized the job and established his have pace.

In 1949, four many years following Estacio married Josie Vance, the pair moved into smaller property situated at the north end of the park entrance. As Josie explained, “There was not a blade of grass to be seen. Tony planted all of the bouquets himself. He also planted all of the more compact trees.”

In accordance to a single of the lots of adult men who remembered Estacio, he held cages of chickens and rabbits in his yard. The location later grew to become the website of the famed “Tony’s Zoo,” designed feasible with the assistance of the Noontime Rotary, the place cages of animals donated by numerous locals dotted the minimal hill. Despite the fact that some individuals have reported that they had donated modest birds and animals, the identities of all those who donated the famed bear, buffalo and camel, keep on being a secret.

Waller Park: Monkeys and peacocks and a bear, oh my!

Waller Park: Wherever this buffalo once roamed.

Waller Park after had three ponds. The a single up entrance is even now there as is the a person situated in the middle of the park. This was known as Monkey Island for the reason that the monkeys lived on the minimal island in the center of the pond. The pond located in back of the park has because been crammed in and is now the residence of W.O.O.F. P.A.C. Park (also known as Woof Park). Woof Park opened in 2006 and is mentioned for being one of the ideal off-leash parks in the condition.

Whilst a big aviary stuffed with birds lined 1 portion where by an eagle occupied a special cage, peacocks roamed the park freely. Different fraternal companies delivered equally the funding and muscle energy in which to establish the cages.

The zoo was a different monument to Astacio wherever all of the animals and birds experienced been his individual residence. When he retired, he signed above possession of the animals to Waller Park. Even so, it did not last extensive as the new park ranger experienced neither the time nor the staff essential to consider treatment of it. Some townspeople probably breathed a sigh of reduction as they had extensive complained of the absence of suitable space for the animals to transfer about. In addition, even however the cages currently being routinely hosed down, there was an ever-current stench. The animals have been sent to zoos in Santa Barbara and Atascadero.

When Astacio retired on Aug. 31, 1964, the total metropolis rose to publicly voice their appreciation for the function that he did on behalf of regional kids by way of the Waller Park Junior Rangers system and for making the park the most common recreation facility in the place.

The Estacios, in return, turned the tables on their effectively-wishers with a letter of many thanks.

“My spouse and I have lived in Waller Park for 15 many years. In this time, a person of our most rewarding assignments was the arranging of the Junior Park Rangers. In forming this boys club, we ended up ready to channel the boyish enthusiasm and exuberance of area boys from mischievous vandalism into constructive and worthwhile helpfulness.

Waller Park: Monkeys and peacocks and a bear, oh my!

The Junior Park Rangers as they appeared on the go over of a booklet prepared by Tony and Josie Estacio in 1968.

“There are many means in which the folks of this community have been beneficial,” he continued. “Several have contributed clothes, furnishings, toys and meals, which were distributed to needy people. Cash donated by generous citizen has been employed to purchase other desired merchandise as nicely as supplying gratifying, healthful fun for the Junior Park Rangers.

“We are grateful to all of all those who contributed seeds and crops, as well as the fertilizer to make them improve to individuals who contributed animals, birds, fowl and product for cages and the labor to create them offered wellness care when necessary furnished the baseball backstop park tables all products and facilities, as well as dollars, which was utilized in a number of methods.

“Last but most vital, we want to categorical our gratitude to the county officers who have aided in just about every way attainable, and to our lots of mates who noticed fit to compose letters and signal petitions requesting that we be permitted to live in the park after retirement and proceed our do the job as boys’ counselors. You all have been most sort and we request God’s blessing on you.”

Although Tony and Josie moved into a property presented by the county on Goodwin Street, at the time of Tony’s death, they were being residing in Nipomo.

There was no question that previous customers of Tony’s Junior Park Rangers loved the person dearly as, soon after he died (on Nov. 13, 1970) the Magner Funeral Dwelling was inundated with requests from quite a few of them seeking to provide as pallbearers at his funeral. 

Both Tony and Josie, who died Nov. 30, 1979, are buried in Arroyo Grande.

Shirley Contreras life in Orcutt and writes for the Santa Maria Valley Historic Modern society. She can be contacted at 934-3514 or at [email protected]. Her ebook, “The Great A long time,” a range of stories she’s composed for the Santa Maria Situations since 1991, is on sale at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, 616 S. Broadway.