Last weekend I had the joy of seeing Midnight Circus at Hamlin Park. I heard about Midnight Circus nearly five years ago and I can’t believe I didn’t see a performance until now. I guarantee that I will be going back. As a child, I was always captivated by circus performances, but I’m against some of the animal aspects of circuses so I love that this is the type of circus that a whole family of animal lovers can enjoy!
No wonder, because there is an animal-loving family in the circus cast: father and son Ring Masters, Jeff and Max, and mother and daughter clown team, Julie and Sam. The Jenkins’ family dog, Junebug, even has a chance to steal the show in the second act. Guests get the fun of the circus energy and are left in amazement with performers’ physical abilities (there are acrobatics, juggling, tight-rope-walking, a man that squeezes through a tennis racket, an amazing woman that performs aerial feats with a rope that hangs from the ceiling, and my personal fave was a guy and girl that performed a beautifully hypnotic dance that traversed vertically up a narrow pole!). All the fun of a circus and the only animal is Junebug, a sweet family rescue dog from Chicago.
I met Ringmaster, Jeff Jenkins, about five years ago through a mutual friend at The Anti-Cruelty Society. When they’re not performing for Midnight Circus or at the Chicago Bulls games, Jeff and his dog, Junebug, volunteer with the Society by going into various juvenile detention facilities to show incarcerated youth the benefits of patient and respectful relationships (both with animals and with people). Many of the young men in these programs only know pit bulls as the breed most commonly abused and exploited into fighting. Jeff tells them of how he rescued a then emaciated and scarred Junebug from the same streets where Derrick Rose was born. He even allows the teens to walk Junebug through an agility course and shows them how to be compassionate, confident, and clear to direct a pet without ever using punishment – that only teaches an animal fear and punishment avoidance.
The friend that attended the circus with me last weekend remarked at how amazing Junebug was considering her former abuse and neglect. It is also fantastic for so many attendees to see this often exploited and misunderstood breed in a positive light.
Animal-lovers, Chicago fans, and anyone that loves a good show should check out Midnight Circus during the Circus in the Parks performances through the end of October. Fun for all ages. No harm to animals. AND the performances raise funds for Chicago neighborhood parks.
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