Along the Waterfront: Chase Palm Park a Home to Free-Spirited Play | Sports

Along the Waterfront: Chase Palm Park a Home to Free-Spirited Play | Sports

[Noozhawk’s note: This is the latest in a series of articles on the myriad recreational activities along the Santa Barbara waterfront. Click here for the complete series index.]

Chase Palm Park in Santa Barbara is a long stretch of free space, curtained with iconic waterfront palms, and the activity is left to the imagination of its visitors.

Which is to say that there is little there that is programmed. Drop in for pickup games of soccer or rugby, join a drum circle, play with your kids and dogs, ride a surrey or a bicycle or glide on skates rented from Wheel Fun along the waterfront trail, or from Santa Barbara Bikes to Go or others. Or, just relax.

“That field that’s there is not permitable (subject to city permit),” said Rich Hanna, the city’s recreation manager. “The only time we permit that is if it’s a special event.

“So, it’s truly the only field in Santa Barbara you can drop in and use and play. You’ll see rugby, soccer, frisbee and some other activity all taking place in some part of that park at the same time.”

Chase Palm Park straddles Cabrillo Boulevard from Garden Street eastward to Calle Cesar Chavez (on the “mountain side” of Cabrillo) and farther east to Milpas Street on the waterfront side.

The park’s wonders can be as simple as family time.

Ananda Dalidd, 65, of Goleta said he likes to visit with his grandson, Davin Clapinski, who’s 5½, for some soccer practice. They set up goal-markers and try to get the ball past each other.

“I get the breeze, the ocean — it’s nice,” Dalidd said. “I meet people like you. Here is a win-win.”

On Saturdays at 9:45 a.m., a lively and diverse group of women meets at the waterfront side of Chase Palm Park to dance — for Rwanda, for their community, for exercise and for fun. It’s led by World Dance for Humanity, a nonprofit organization founded 11 years ago by Janet Reineck that also offers regular classes at Oak Park, the Schott Center and on Zoom. Click here for more information.

The 75-minute class is offered for a small donation, which goes to help projects in Rwanda that benefit thousands of people with basic needs and education.

“We raised $50,000 last year for emergency food aid to Rwanda so the people wouldn’t starve during the COVID lockdown in their country,” Reineck said, adding that the dancing is “heartfelt and joyous. … It’s not just an exercise class. It brings people together with care and concern for our own community and the world.”

The class music changes daily, encompassing contemporary popular music as well as music from other cultures intended to unite people in thought and spirit. Recently, that has included Afghanistan, Haiti and the Gulf states, among others.

“We’re in a common humanity,” Reineck said. “We’re trying to melt down the barriers between people, and between Santa Barbara and the rest of the world.

Dancers at Chase Palm Park
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Dianna Persson, left, and Amy Cluck groove to the music during Saturday morning dance class with World Dance for Humanity at Santa Barbara’s Chase Palm Park. (Marcia Heller / Noozhawk photo)

“We love dancing at the waterfront! It gives us a chance to connect with people out walking, running, and riding bikes — to share the joy!”

The park has rentable facilities available, including the Palm Park Beach House on the ocean side. It’s a scenic site available for wedding receptions, business meetings, staff retreats and family parties. On the other side of Cabrillo Boulevard, there is the Carousel House — “Perfect for a party, elopement, wedding or reception,” according to the facility website.

The circular building, set amid a courtyard and gardens, is named for the vintage carousel (aka merry-go-round) it housed from 1999 to 2017. That 1916 carousel with hand-carved horses now resides in a museum in Hood River, Oregon.

When the carousel operators decided not to renew the lease, the city completed some renovations and upgrades to the building, Hanna said.

“We use it for private rentals, corporate events,” he said. “If there are special events in the park, they’ll often use that as part of their special event permit.

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The Carousel House, built in 1998, is available to rent. (Dennis Moran / Noozhawk photo)

“So, if you think of California wine and beer festival, they may have that be part of their VIP area, but they’re using the plaza area out in front. We’ve done fitness classes in there during the weekdays.”

Chase Palm Park is part of a commitment to preserving waterfront land for public works that stretches back many decades and involving many city leaders. In 1924, the East Boulevard Improvement Association was organized, under the chairmanship of Frederick Forrest Peabody, according to the city’s Histories of Individual Parks written by Mary Louise Days in 1977.

The group’s aim “was to secure for city park purposes all the beachfront land from State Street to the Salt Pond (the present-day Bird Refuge),” Days wrote.

Chase Palm Park also recognizes its namesake founders, Pearl and Harold Chase, with a plaque with their images: “Honoring a sister and brother whose many contributions to Santa Barbara’s beauty and welfare included establishing this park.”

— Noozhawk correspondent Dennis Moran can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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