McKinley Park & Midnight Circus: A force for community engagement

McKinley Park, Midnight Circus, Community Involvement, Chicago

“Midnight Circus does not just put up the tent, collect ticket fees and move on,” said Patrick Brosnan, Executive Director, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. “They engage local community groups for months leading up to the weekend of shows. They bring community leaders from participating parks together to help share best practices in promoting, fundraising, and recruiting.”

Tsukasa Taiko Drummers, McKinley Park, Chicago, Midnight Circus

McKinley Park Advisory Council (MPAC) president Veronica O’Malley recently shared how McKinley Park used funds raised and volunteers recruited through their weekend of hosting Midnight Circus in the Parks. “We have used funds collected through hosting Midnight Circus in the Parks for multiple great enhancements to our park,” said O’Malley. “Our goal is to provide artistic, athletic, healthy (personal and environmental) and social events throughout the year.” 

Here are some of the events MPAC created using funds raised during their circus weekend:

  • Fun Run - A Halloween theme-race-around-the-park-in-your-costume

  • Summer Concert Series - a variety music genres from local musicians that were showcased at our Farmer's Market

  • Stewardship Days - a once monthly clean-up effort throughout our park, we provide fresh fruit and water
  • Farmer's Market Intern - we are busy bees all summer long and now have funds for a summer intern to help us facilitate our Sunday market. (from set-up, breakdown and answering all questions related to the farmer's market/vendors, just to name a few)
  • Make Music Chicago - we hosted A city-wide summer solstice music celebration
  • Painting classes – Year-round painting on canvas classes for children and adults
  • Soccer Nets - We replaced several broken soccer nets for the soccer field for all to enjoy

Midnight Circus in the Parks was founded on the belief that community involvement is the foundation on which to build long‐term success with positive effects lasting well beyond a two‐hour performance. It’s so exciting to see that happening at McKinley Park.