The annual Winter Dance Party is underway at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. This year marks the 51st anniversary of the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the “Big Bopper” J-P Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson who were killed in a plane crash after the rockers performed at the Surf.

Surf Ballroom executive director Laurie Lietz says tonight will be the traditional “sock hop”, and will feature an all-star lineup of the Original White Sidewalls, Stan Perkins, Tommy Jennings, McKenna Medley and The Vees. There will also be the customary dance and costume contests as well. They have a number of headliners set to perform Saturday.

She says the lineup includes Fabian, The Crickets, The Orlons, Lesley Gore, and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers. Lietz says the Winter Dance Party festivities helps out Clear Lake’s economy every year. She says it gives the resort community a boost in the middle of the winter. Lietz says it is an important event, especially in this economy.

Lietz says the conservatively estimate the impact at 750-thousand dollars to the area’s hotels and restaurants each year. Last year’s 50th anniversary celebration likely brought twice as much tourism revenue to the Clear Lake area. For more about the Winter Dance Party weekend events, you can look online at

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City