Note: Windy City Circus has cancelled its 10-day engagement at Navy Pier. Founder David Maas said, "We are incredibly saddened to report that in this economy as a new non-profit organization, we have fallen short of our projected sponsorship and funding goals. "We want to ensure that Chicago receives a high-quality production that befits our incredible hometown and will be a successful fundraiser for our charitable partners. We are looking forward to mounting Windy City Circus at a future date, and will continue to strive toward that goal."
As entertainers, David and Dania Maas have been on the road their whole lives. Masters of a quick-change magic act they performed around the globe, David and Dania often found themselves saying goodbye to their son Daniel as they headed to the airport.
"It's fine; it's what we do," David says of their travels, "but I wanted to become part of a community, get to know people. And my wife desperately wanted that as well."
So the couple eventually decided to settle down in Glenview and launch a project closer to home. Their new project-Windy City Circus-will bring circus entertainers from around the world to Navy Pier for their first performance in February, but David and Dania hope it becomes a year-round Chicago circus.
Deciding they needed to do more than just create an entertainment venue close to home, they wanted it to be a "circus with a purpose."
So, working with friends Gary and Renee Walter, they decided the circus would help needy and disabled children and their families.
Eighty percent of the proceeds from their circus performances will be donated to local Ronald McDonald House charities and Special Olympics Chicago.
The circus will hold additional appeal to Chicagoans, as the storyline explores events from Chicago history. It also will have an international flair.
"Entertainers will be from all over the world, from Russia to Spain," David says. "The goal is to work an entire season eventually, once we're up and going, from August until the following year."
In the end, they hope to bring the joy of the circus to another generation of children.
"It'll be just a good circus, with old-fashioned clowns ... and just the nice smell of popcorn," Dania says.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.