Christopher Haite has been volunteering with Midnight Circus in the Parks since its inception. In fact the entire Haite Family have been an important part of Midnight Circus in the Parks from day one.
He and his wife, Emily, moved to Lincoln Square in 2001 where they frequented Welles Park with their children, Maggie and Michael. They quickly became involved in the Welles Park Advisory Council, of which Emily was a member when Midnight Circus first proposed putting on a show. After that first weekend, Christopher says, his family was hooked. “Once we saw the passion, we wanted to be part of the circus family.”
Soon, a new family tradition was born. As the Haite children grew, so did the family’s relationship to the circus. “First, it was just, we’re going to every show, right?” Christopher says of his children’s passion for the circus. Since they were already attending so many shows, Christopher and Emily expanded their volunteer responsibilities. And as Maggie and Michael got older, they started helping out too, selling food in the concessions tent and ushering the guests in the big top. Now they volunteer at parks across the city, pitching in not just during the show, but at set-up and tear-down, too. “They really enjoy being part of the crew and getting to know the performers better. We were saying, after the tour last year, that they could fulfill their community service hours with Midnight Circus alone.”
Christopher plays a unique and highly recognizable role at Midnight Circus–part usher, part clown, part ringmaster. He started as a humble usher, but as the crowds grew, it became harder to make himself seen and heard–until he happened across a creative solution. “I found a clown wig, and when I wore it the kids would actually listen! I soon added the nose, and found that I really enjoyed interacting with the crowds, and the kids liked when I clowned around, too.” As the program expanded, Christopher began taking his act to parks across the city, teaching new volunteers how to “pack ‘em in” with style and aplomb.
Executive Director Jeff Jenkins lights up when asked about Christopher and his family. “There is an old saying in the circus...clowns are the pegs upon which the circus is hung” Jenkins follows up with. “Christopher and his family are among the most important pegs upon which Midnight Circus is hung. We simply would not be where we are without them. They are truly family!”
Through the years, Christopher has been at the heart of Midnight Circus in the Parks–for sold-out houses, weather-related hiccups, and all manner of circus magic. Most of all, it’s the spirit of teamwork that keeps him coming back. “It’s amazing how the circus family works, plays, laughs, and cries together. Everyone pitches in to get done what needs to be done.” Truly, Midnight Circus in the Parks would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of volunteers like Christopher and his entire family.