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Minburn’s ‘Singing Wheels’ became known statewide

The “Singing Wheels” was formed in 1951, three years after the outdoor skating rink in Minburn was finished. The group originally included 20 skaters, but grew to more than 150 and was known around the state. The outdoor skating rink remains in the middle of Minburn and is still used by skaters.
The “Singing Wheels” was formed in 1951, three years after the outdoor skating rink in Minburn was finished. The group originally included 20 skaters, but grew to more than 150 and was known around the state. The outdoor skating rink remains in the middle of Minburn and is still used by skaters.

Smack-dab in the Middle of Minburn is an outdoor roller skating rink with an adjacent skating “clubhouse.”

Although the rink is still used by folks in Minburn, there’s no organized skating, despite efforts within the past decade to again open the rink for organized skating.

But, the site was an integral part of Minburn’s entertainment during the middle of the past century.

Long used by residents, in 1951 a group of about 20 members of the Minburn Roller Club presented the first skating show. It was staged as part of the community’s Fall Festival and was directed by John Sanders, who was a music instructor at Minburn High School.

The Fall Festival itself was organized by the Minburn Community Club in 1946 and festival proceeds had been used to pour concrete in the 100-by-50-foot outdoor skating rink.

The rink was built in the spring of 1948 and all labor was donated by men in Minburn. Regular nights of skating were Wednesdays and Fridays. Various local organizations operated the food stand and all of the community’s stores were open for business.

Locals recall that parking was at a premium on those skating nights.

The “Rolling Wheels” wore costumes made by Minburn women. The “Rolling Wheels” and “John

Sanders” became known around Iowa. The “Rolling Wheels” grew to about 150 and drew as many as 10,000 people to the community during the three nights of performances during the Fall Festival.

The show continued even after Sanders left Minburn in 1956 and eventually included skaters as young as 3 and as old as 60-plus.

A special group within the Singing Wheels was a group of high school or older skaters who closed each performance with a military number.

The group continued for 11 years, finally folding in the early 1960s.

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