In Chile, an old park gets a new lease on life

The Chilean government is investing nearly $4 million USD to restore Santiago’s historic El Trapiche Park.

Located in Peñaflor, El Trapiche Park was at one time Santiago’s most popular  family getaway, a place to picnic in the great outdoors only a few miles from the heart of the city. Today, the park is being remodeled to restore it to its former glory as a place for leisure and Chilean culture.
Work on the park began last week with an opening ceremony that included performances of cueca – the Chilean national dance – by men and women dressed in the traditional clothing of the Chilean cowboy or huaso. In her opening speech, the Metropolitan Regional Governor Cecilia Pérez outlined the project’s mission. “This project’s goal is to recover a space that was totally abandoned for years and that today, thanks to an investment of nearly 2 billion Pesos by the regional government, will be able to start a new phase in its life,” she said.
The project, divided into two stages, puts special emphasis on preserving the park’s cultural heritage. The first stage will include the construction of a new media luna, the traditional Chilean rodeo, a plaza, stables, offices and parking – a total of nearly 7,000 square feet (2,168 square meters) of new buildings and equipment. Proposals for the second stage include the construction of a pool, skate park, a multi-use recreational facility, sports circuits, an events hall and hiking trails.
First created in 1929, El Trapiche was for the better part of 50 years a highly frequented recreational space, with Chilean folklore, games, restaurants (most notably, one that revolved) and small shops. Small business owners often organized a “Night In Venice” event with competitions and art shows, and a rodeo was erected every September 18th during the Fiestas Patrias national holidays.

However, in 1983 the park was closed to the public and has since been in a state of disuse. Today’s project, as Peñaflor Mayor Manuel Fuentes emphasized, will “rescue the historical and traditional value of our El Trapiche Park with spaces for sports, recreation and culture, transforming it into a true green lung for the community.”