For more than two centuries the Wallenda family presented a circus with their name. The origin is not easily traced but by the early 19th century the banner of Zirkus Wallenda waved over town squares in Germany. By the early 20thcentury Karl Wallenda featured his highwire troupe as the backbone of Arena Wallenda, as it was known under his leadership. European war and the family migration to America ended the show.
The Wallenda family toured with Ringling Brothers until the close of WWII. In 1947 Karl launched his brand new Wallenda Circus in North America. The show featured the giant 7-person-pyramid on the highwire and Rietta Wallenda on the towering sway pole. This spectacular line up toured briefly. Box office failures, due to bad weather and other elements beyond the control of promoters and the Wallenda family, forced Karl to quickly book his show as a free attraction with Johnny Jones Amusements, a carnival. The following season he began a prosperous relationship with promoter Tom Packs. Packs promoted everything from pro-wrestling to circus, and assimilated all of the Wallenda attractions. Packs quickly recognized Karl’s ability to manage and made him performance director. When Packs died in 1964, the show continued under the direction of Karl and his life-long partner, Jack Leontini. 1972 saw the separation of the Packs and Wallenda families, and the show continued as the Wallenda Circus. After Karl passed away in 1978 the show slowly fell to the rear as grandchildren focused interest on the aerial attractions instead.
In the 1980’s grandson Rick, resurrected the circus placing the 3 ring giant in ball parks, arenas and under his own colorful big top 200 feet long and 100 feet wide. Today the circus is in hiatus, but Mr. Wallenda still owns the title with no plans for the future. The historic Zirkus Wallenda is still available for smaller venues.