WICKER PARK — A busy weekend of Midnight Circus shows brought 2,500 people to Wicker Park's namesake park, but not everyone was in a happy mood.
According to witnesses and police, a 51-year-old man was arrested around 3 p.m. Saturday after spitting on a security guard and verbally harassing a volunteer.
The man was demanding to get into the traveling circus, which charges $20 for adults and sets up its Big Tent in the park, 1425 N. Damen Ave., witnesses said. The show was underway and most of the audience was inside when the incident occurred outside the tent.
"He wouldn't leave us alone, he kept insisting to go into the circus and talk to the management," said Doug Wood, an events coordinator with the Wicker Park Advisory Council, a volunteer group that collaborates with the Chicago Park District and helps organize events.
David Figueroa, who listed no address, was charged with criminal trespassing and violation of bail bond, according to Officer Nicole Trainor, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.
Trainor said the man was asked to leave after attempting to gain entry into an event without a ticket. The man refused to leave and started bothering other people, Trainor said.
An off-duty Chicago Police officer restrained the man until on-duty police arrived and arrested him, Trainor said.
In the past two months, Figueroa failed to show up to court for misdemeanor cases in which he is charged with criminal damage to property and criminal trespassing at a convenience store, according to Monalinda Saldivar, a spokeswoman for the clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court. The case was later dropped.
Figueroa has a lengthy criminal record dating back three decades which includes multiple convictions for assault of a peace officer, possession of stolen car, theft and battery.
After the circus incident Saturday, Figueroa was released without having to post bond. He is scheduled to appear in court again Wednesday, Saldivar said.
Wood said the circus incident was frustrating because "the park was filled with people" who are paying money to be there at the circus and some folks who were outside of the tent felt threatened.
"There is a real problem and we all know that. The [park] staff is appalled by the number of people who should be on medication. It's a sad situation when we have to pay $1,600 for park security," Wood said, referring to the fact the volunteer group used advertising money from its circus booklet ad sales to pay for two security guards over the weekend.