“Our mission and message has always been about community building across Chicago,” explained executive director, Jeff Jenkins. “Midnight Circus felt compelled to expand that mission and use our voice and our circus to assist another community in need, the community of Puerto Rico.”
With that in mind, Midnight Circus added a special performance on Thursday, October 12 dedicated to helping victims of Hurricane Maria. The people of Chicago truly came together. All the artists and support staff donated their time and talent.
Volunteers from various park advisory councils including Lake Shore, Holstein, Welles and Wicker Park volunteered to collect tickets and sell concessions. Nick's Pizza & Pub, who just moved into the Welles Park neighborhood, donated pizzas. Alderman Waguespack covered the cost of the rest of the concessions. Tickets sold out in less than 24 hours and 100% of those ticket sales and concessions went the American Red Cross' Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts.
WGN-TV reporter Ana Belaval and Celena Roldán, CEO of American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois, served as guest ringmasters with Alderman Joe Moreno, Alderman Scott Waguespack, Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, and Senator Iris Y. Martinez. Together they got in the ring to help kick off an amazing night of fundraising for the people of Puerto Rico. “I was overwhelmed and thrilled by the generosity we saw at the event,” Martinez said. “Chicago has a vibrant Puerto Rican community, and it warms my heart to see the outpouring of love for our friends in Puerto Rico who are still suffering so much.”
“As the show drew to a close, the Midnight Circus in the Parks Benefit Performance had raised $17,971 for the people of Puerto Rico. The circus artists weren't satisfied with almost hitting $18,000. They pulled out their wallets and got us to $18,000,” Julie Greenberg, artistic director for the circus, said
Melvin Diggs, a Chinese Hoop and Pole specialist, was one of the first artists to open his wallet. “For me, doing to benefit show was very uplifting and though my part was small I felt as if at least I was doing something to help rather than just talking about how sad it was and still is at the moment,” Melvin said via email from his current location in Montreal he is preparing to join Cirque du Soliel’s show Luzia. “I give a huge loving thank you to Midnight Circus for letting me be a part of that!”
Midnight Circus was able to see one way the donations to the American Red Cross are being put to use when Celena Roldan did a recent deployment in Puerto Rico. On November 24, Celena joined a group of American Red Cross volunteers to distribute water filters to over 210 households in Maunabo. According to the Miami Herald, thousands in Puerto Rico are still without running water and this is making people sick and attributing four recent deaths to the lack of clean drinking water. These water filters if cleaned once a day, can provide a family with clean drinking water for almost 2 years.