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Iowa Democratic Wing Ding goes virtual for 2020
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Iowa Democratic Wing Ding goes virtual for 2020

Wing Ding 3

Iowa Democratic Wing Ding Chairman Randy Black talks about the historical importance of the Wing Ding, displaying a scrapbook of photos and memorabilia from a previous event, slated to be entered into Barack Obama's presidential library. For the 2020 iteration, Black and other organizers had to plan an entirely virtual affair.

What a difference a year makes. 

This time last year, the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake had its largest slate of guests ever. Twenty-one candidates running for president were on the list, 1,600 tickets were sold and gobs of, yes, chicken wings were ordered from HyVee to satiate those in attendance.

A year later, things are going to be a bit different. 

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Friday evening event has migrated to a virtual format. Since the primaries are but a distant memory now, the guest list has been pared down from 2019. And there will be no complimentary wings for folks to munch on. 

But Wing Ding organizer Randy Black is resolute that this year's iteration of the long-running event will still have some spectacle to it.

In addition to message from U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield and a conversation with Iowa Fourth congressional district challenger J.D. Scholten, the virtual Wing Ding will feature a video from former Vice President and current Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden, who closed out the event the previous year. On top of all of that, the presentation of the event's "Beacon Award" will be for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding last August at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake.

According to Black, during the early days of the pandemic, event planners weren't sure if they'd even be able to pull anything off.

"Normally we get together in January and February to plan the event and figure out what we want to do and how. As the pandemic arose, we thought I don’t know if we can do this," Black said. Even if the planners had wanted to have a packed house at the Surf, they couldn't have.

But by the tail-end of April, Black said that the planners settled on the idea of a virtual event that would be donation-based for anyone wanting to attend. Sure the guest list would be smaller but attendance could be much larger.

"Right now, we think it’s more necessary to play it safe and be cool and lead by example," Black said.

As for the lack of wings, Black has a recommendation for that: "Grab your favorite beverage, your favorite munchies, couch and enjoy from the comforts of your home. It’s not the same as having the wings and the fun stuff, but we want to bring the Wing Ding to people and we’re doing that."

The Wing Ding officially gets rolling at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and can be accessed through the event's website which is Iowa Wing Ding dot com

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Jared McNett covers local government for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at or by phone at 641-421-0527. Follow Jared on Twitter at @TwoHeadedBoy98.


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