© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

Hemisfair Gondolas Get A Second Chance

San Antonians will soon be able to revisit something that they knew decades ago from Hemisfair. If you ever rode the Hemisfair or Brackenridge Park Gondolas, a pair of them have re-surfaced, looking almost brand new. But St. Philips College Collision Refinishing Technology Director Daniel Salas says they didn't start out that way.    

We had to take them all apart, work the metal, do the bodywork on them,  prep them and re-finish them.

I pointed out that they pretty much look like new now.

"They do! The students do a pretty good job here at St. Philips College."

The Collision Refinishing division teaches students how to repair cars after accidents -- or in this rare case, Gondolas. Student Jeanette Zezrowski was surprised to be working on old school Gondolas.

"I was like...'you expect us to work on what?'" she laughed.

She and the other students spent nearly a year and a half pounding out the dents and sanding bondo.

"Oh my God, my arms were numb some days!"   

She says the time they invested really paid off though.

"Yeah, it turned out a lot better than any of us thought it would, to be honest with you."

Joe De La Cruz is one of the only students old enough to have actually ridden in one, back in the day.

"If you look at it now it's smooth and it looks like it's never had any dents. If you see how smooth it is, it didn't look like that" he paused thinking back on when the Gondolas arrived. "This was a disaster."

Now the Gondolas look sharp, silver handrails with three-tone 60s shade paint, and seating for up to four. Hemisfair Park Redevelopment's Drew Hicks says they will soon be installed at Yanaguana Gardens.

"We envision them as meeting places. So I think adults can meet in them and have a cup of coffee and chat. Kids can certainly get in them and read books."

As to whether these are the last two..."We'll see if we can add more, but there are definitely more of these gondolas out there."

Find more on Yanaguana Gardens here