Showmen's League of America's Christmas Circus delights NW Side students for 70 years

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students on the Northwest Side were delighted Friday by a holiday tradition that has been bringing joy to children for the past seven decades.

Any day that begins with popcorn and cotton candy is bound to be a good one.

A sea of faces sat in awe of the Showmen's League of America performing at Hanson Park Elementary School. The magic-makers made an elf pop out of a box that had been pierced by swords - but how?

"I don't know. It's so cool!" said Andrea, one of the students watching the show.

Thousands of Hanover Park students have been awed like Andrea: The Showmen's League of America has been performing its Christmas Circus there for the past 15 years.

Elf Robin, one of the performers, said the experience can be educational for many.

"This is their first way of learning how to be an audience member," Robin said.

The performers even drew some of these young audience members to get in on the act. Axel was asked to place his shoes in a special machine. They were suddenly burned to a crisp.

Don't worry; all ended well. The performers magically got his shoes back to him.

"I don't know but it was inside a present," he said.

Tim Balster, a member of the Showmen's League, explained that part of the tradition is that each audience member goes home with a stuffed animal.

"Some of these kids, this is the only Christmas presents they're gonna get," he said.
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