Surf Ballroom light banner

A new lamppost banner outside of the Surf Ballroom depicts an artistic rendering of previous owners, the late Dean and Joanne Snyder, dancing, alongside a quote from Dean about his decision to purchase the Surf.

A Clear Lake couple credited for saving the Surf Ballroom & Museum 25 years ago is being remembered in a new way.

Dean and Joanne Snyder, who purchased and restored the historic rock ‘n’ roll venue in 1994, are featured dancing on a decorative light pole banner with the quote, “If she liked to fish, I would have bought her a fishing pole, but she liked to dance, so I bought her the Surf,” erected earlier this month outside the landmark on North Shore Drive.

“We are thrilled to have this new addition to the Surf Ballroom’s streetscape,” said Laurie Lietz, Surf Ballroom & Museum executive director and events coordinator. “The banners along the North Shore Drive corridor enhance an already beautiful setting within our community, and the image of Dean and Joanne Snyder is a perfect tribute to the legacy that they have left for us to enjoy for generations to come.”

Surf Ballroom light banner

A new lamp post banner outside of the Surf Ballroom depicts an artistic rendering of previous owners, the late Dean and Joanne Snyder, dancing, alongside a quote from Dean about his decision to purchase the Surf.

Dean, who founded Dean Snyder Construction, died in January 2018, and Joanne died in April. The couple was married for 63 years.

When the Surf Ballroom was in danger of closing in 1994, the Snyders bought it and refurbished it so Clear Lake would not lose one of its gems.

Family, friends and volunteers spent months working to restore the ballroom to its original glory ahead of the 1995 Winter Dance Party, an annual event that commemorates Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson’s last performance at the Surf Ballroom before they were killed in a plane crash.

In 2008, the Snyder family leased the building to the North Iowa Cultural Center and Museum for daily operations, but remain involved.

Today, the Surf Ballroom remains a premier venue for concerts, fundraisers and special events in North Iowa drawing thousands of visitors annually. It garnered national attention when it was nominated for the Academy of Country Music Venue of the Year – Small Capacity Award in February.

“We feel the Surf adds and brings a lot of value and opportunity to North Iowa,” said Dale Snyder, one of Dean and Joanne’s three sons. “We were pleased that (the city) recognized that.”

Dean Snyder and wife Joanne

Dean Snyder dances with his wife, Joanne, at the Surf Ballroom, a Clear Lake landmark he saved from extinction in 1994. Snyder died Saturday at the age of 87. 

The banner outside the Surf Ballroom is among 21 the City of Clear Lake installed along North Shore Drive to cap its more than $2.5 million improvement project that involved the reconstruction of North Shore Drive between First Avenue North and Buddy Holly Place and portions of North Lakeview Drive and First Avenue North.

The project involved new underground public and private utility infrastructure and street paving.

Clear Lake City Administrator Scott Flory said decorative street lighting were also included in the project, and the city wanted to add banners to the light poles to enhance the overall streetscape and create a nexus between City Park and the Surf.

A local group worked with RDG Planning & Design to design light pole banners that are unique to Clear Lake and promote some of the special events and amenities its bless to enjoy, he said.

Flory said no one from the Snyder family was involved in the banner project.

“It’s very thoughtful of the city to do something like that,” he said, noting he first saw the banner of his parents after it was displayed on North Shore Drive.

Photos: 2019 Winter Dance Party at Surf Ballroom

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.


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