CLEAR LAKE | Identical triplets Hadley, Ryan and Brynley Miles twirled, spun and bounced energetically in their poodle skirts at the Winter Dance Family Sock Hop on Wednesday.

Grandparents Kim and Sue Pleggenkuhle and the girls' mother, Erin Miles, rocked along with them in the crowded Surf Ballroom. The extended family joined a room filled with children and adults for the sock hop, which has become the kickoff of the Winter Dance Party.

"We wanted to bring the girls," said Sue Pleggenkuhle, during a break in the action. "It's a new experience (and) they've never been here."

The annual Surf Ballroom Winter Dance Party celebrates the memory of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. The three men died in a plane crash Feb. 3, 1959, in Clear Lake. Pilot Roger Peterson also died.

Holly, Valens and Richardson had performed at the Surf Ballroom the night before their deaths as part of the Winter Dance Party tour.

The Family Sock Hop is a way for the Surf Ballroom to get children and their parents involved in the annual event, said Laurie Lietz, executive director of the Surf Ballroom.

The Surf gives out free tickets to local schoolchildren in conjunction with an art contest.

"We feel like the younger generation will be what continues this event long into the future," Lietz said.

Molly Johnson of Clear Lake brought son Xander, 5, and daughter Izzy, 8, to the dance.

Izzy, wearing a pink poodle skirt, greeted a friend with a giant hug outside the ballroom doors. The family and their friends were among approximately 100 people waiting outside the venue when the doors opened at 6:30 p.m.

"It's historical and nostalgic," Johnson said. "I've never been to Buddy Holly Days, but the sock hop is a big deal to the kids. It's important that they know the history of their town."

 

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