Surf Ballroom Celebrates First Winter Dance Party Without Dean Snyder

Feb 2, 2018

The annual Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake and the Surf Ballroom, which commemorates the anniversary of a plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, "the Big Bopper," and Richie Valens, is this weekend. This year, it will be a special celebration Saturday night.

This is the first year in a long time that Dean Snyder, whose family saved the Surf from being demolished, and Darryl Hensley, aka The Mad Hatter, who founded the Winter Dance Party, won't be in attendance. 

Snyder passed away in January of this year, and Hensley died in the fall of 2017. Laurie Lietz, executive director of the Surf says that they will be honoring Hensley tonight and will be honoring Snyder on Saturday night. 

"He always had a smile on his face, and he was always willing to roll up his sleeves. He was always willing to pick up a hammer when he needed to," she says of Snyder. "I didn't know anybody who didn't love him."

"The Mad Hatter was the one who decided to found the tribute, and we're excited to celebrate him tonight." 

Lietz says there will be lots of Bit O' Honey candies on hand as that was Snyder's favorite. During this River to River interview, Lietz talks with host Ben Kieffer. 

Also included in this River to River segment: a conversation with Associated Press Reporter Ryan Foley, and Des Moines Register Reporter Aaron Young.