The UniverSoul Circus — a Washington Park mainstay — will not be returning to the city this year. Credit: Provided.

WASHINGTON PARK — The UniverSoul Circus will not be returning to Washington Park this fall, the Chicago Park District confirmed Monday.

The popular traveling circus has been a tradition for Chicago families since its debut in 1994, putting on its show on the grounds of the South Side park for several weeks beginning in late September.

Despite show dates for other cities being advertised on the UniverSoul Circus website, Chicago Park District spokesperson Michele Lemons said the circus had not filed a permit to come back to Chicago this year.

There has been speculation on social media about the circus skipping Chicago this year due to a September 2022 shooting near circus grounds, but Chicago police determined the incident was unrelated to the event as there was no scheduled performance that day.

UniverSoul Circus spokesman Hank Ernest said the circus is now playing longer in markets than it did previously.

“This makes it necessary to extend a tour into more than a one-year timeframe,” he said. “We played Chicago in 2022 … We opened this year in Memphis, moved to Dallas, moved to LA and Oakland, CA, then moved to Washington, DC, now we’re playing NYC, then finishing the year in Philadelphia.”

Ernest noted the circus isn’t even visiting its hometown of Atlanta this year.

“We love Chicago. We’ll be back!” he said.

The circus was created by Calvin Dupree and Cedric Walker and features predominantly Black performers. Since its inception, the traveling circus has grown to over 30 cities in the United States and abroad.


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