‘Midnight Circus’ to debut at Jefferson Memorial Park on October 12 and 13
by BRIAN NADIG
The “Midnight Circus in the Parks” will make its debut at Jefferson Memorial Park, 4822 N. Long Ave., on Oct. 12 and 13.
The annual tour of Chicago parks is intended to bring accessible and affordable theater to communities throughout the city without having to pay for parking and tickets associated with many entertainment venues downtown.
“Bring it to the neighborhood parks because every neighborhood has a park,” said Jeff Jenkins, who operates the circus with his wife Julie.
The Midnight Circus was founded in 1997 but has had a partnership with the Chicago Park District since 2007, bringing its 2-hour performance under a tent to nine parks a year. The 35-foot-high tent can accommodate up to 650 spectators.
Its name refers in part to clowns-in-training who get “too salty” in their jokes and are instructed to hold those lines for the “midnight circus,” although all of the park performances are kept family friendly, Jenkins said.
“It’s more Cirque du Soleil than Ringling,” Jenkins said, adding that many of the performers have worked for the world-famous Cirque production company. “It’s packed full (of entertainment). There’s not a dull moment in the 2 hours.”
The 2019 show includes hoop diving, a balancing act, juggling, acrobatics, clowns and an appearance by a rescue pit bull.
“Over 20,000 people will see the show, and no one is ever more than 10 feet away from the performance ring,” Jenkins said.
The tour has helped raise about $1 million for community groups, playlot renovations and park programming, as local partners receive some of the proceeds, including 100 percent of concession sales. The Jefferson Memorial Park Advisory Council is one of the partners for this year’s tour.
This is not the first time the circus has come to the Northwest Side, performing in the past at Oriole Park, 5430 N. Olcott Ave., and Independence Park, 3945 N. Springfield Ave.
The Jefferson Park performances will be held at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $20 for children ages 2 to 17 and for seniors. Children younger than age 2 are admitted for free but must sit on an adult’s lap. Ticket sales are available at midnightcircus.net/2019-tour-schedule/jefferson-park