Surf Ballroom dance floor starts the new year with a new finish

by Michelle Watson

Millions of feet have danced and partied on the floor at the Surf Ballroom and many famous entertainers have performed on the iconic stage.  After much wear and tear on the historic dance floor and stage, it was time for a renovation.

A hard-working crew from Dean Snyder Construction has been busy repairing and resurfacing the famous dance floor and stage areas.  Crews were hoping to have the project completed for the New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31, but the repairs were more extensive than initially planned and the show was canceled.

According to Surf Executive Director Laurie Lietz, the old ballroom floor has probably undergone its last restoration.  She said the floor is getting so thin, that in the future the wooden floor will probably need to be replaced.

During the floor renovation process, workers found some interesting old items under the floor boards. They found a scrap of paper from the Sutherland Paper Co. located in Kalamazoo, Mich.  The piece featured the name “Linerless,” which was patented on June 5, 1934.  The Sutherland Paper Company was founded as the Kalamazoo Sanitary Carton Company on April 3, 1917 by Louis W. and Rederick W. Sutherland. In 1918 the name was changed to the Sutherland Paper Company. The company produced food containers, paper plates, cups and utensils.   

Workers also found a stick of Adams Black Jack Chewing Gum.  Thomas Adams, of Staten Island, N.Y., began to experiment with gum flavorings, beginning with sarsaparilla. In 1884, he began adding a licorice flavoring and called his invention Adams’ Black Jack, the first flavored gum in America.  At this time, chewing gum changed shape from lump or chunks, to sticks.  It was also the first gum to be offered in sticks as we know it today. It was an instant success.  

A ticket stub to a North Iowa Grandstand event dated Aug. 12, 1957 was also found, as well as a book of matches with an ad for Red Cross Hoarhound Cough Drops. 

After a thorough cleaning to take care of all the dust the floor refinishing project produced, the Surf Ballroom is now re-open and looking ahead to the 2022 Winter Dance Party Feb. 3-5.


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