International Clown Week at Showmen's Rest - Atlas Obscura
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Forest Park, IL

International Clown Week at Showmen's Rest

In 1918, a train wreck killed 60 circus workers. Showmen's rest has become their eternal ringtop.

Circus work has always included a bit of danger, but when most of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus was killed in a train wreck, their community came together to give them a rest fitting for showmen. 

Part of Woodlawn Cemetery, Showmen's Rest is an area of graves purchased by the Showmen's League of America, led by none other than Buffalo Bill Cody. It seemed a fitting place to inter these entertainers, and today the section is one of the most popular in the cemetery.

Five stone elephants guard over graves marked as only "Baldy" or "Smiley," and more than a few "Unknown." And these are joined by more recent interments of those who wish to be with their compadres in the hereafter.

The site is reported to be haunted, with visitors reporting the sounds of elephants as they meandered though the graves. One could easily pass this off as simply noise from the nearby Brookfield Zoo, however.... there are no elephants there. 

We'll start with a tour and  an explanation of the area, and then attend the 16th annual celebration of International Clown Week with a memorial celebration featuring circus arts, kids activities and appropriate reverence towards those who passed giving joy to others. 

There will be food and drink. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.



August 2, 2015
All ages
Meet East of Des Plains Ave. - Western end of cemetery. Field Agent Cheryl will be on hand to greet you.