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Island Park at Milltown was reborn in the summer of 2012 after several volunteers cleaned up the property and created a nonprofit. Brian Stirling, member of Island Park Association, said the group is looking forward to the park’s best summer yet. (Daily Republic file photo)

Island Park looking for better year

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outdoors Mitchell,South Dakota 57301 http://www.mitchellrepublic.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/020414.N.DR_.Islandpark.JPG?itok=ml2iXFE0
The Daily Republic
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Island Park looking for better year
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

MILLTOWN — Entering its third summer in a new life, Island Park is looking for its biggest year yet.

The park, which had fallen into disrepair for many years, will try to hold one event per month in 2014, once the weather gets nice, according to Island Park Association Board Member Brian Stirling.

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“We’ve kicked around a bunch of different ideas,” he said. “We’re hoping the weather holds up for us a little better than last year because we got rained out a lot.”

Among the ideas is to have a few dances with live music at the park. Many resi- dents danced at the park in its heyday in the 1930s and ’40s, when big bands and swing sounds were trendy until the bands of the 1960s and 1970s rolled through.

One event is already set, with the Island Park Car Show on the calendar for June 15. The inaugural event was held in September with 68 cars rolling in for the event.

A group of volunteers and Milltown Island Park Association recently completed a 40-by-64-foot picnic shelter, which is located in almost the exact spot as the famous Island Park Pavilion. The building was a local landmark for roller skaters, until it was destroyed by flooding in 1985.

“That’s going to be a good place for people to meet and we’re hoping to line up reunions and picnics for people who want to use it,” Stirling said.

The park was a major attraction for many in the area, who remember dancing to the likes of Lawrence Welk, Conway Twitty and Myron Lee over the years, along with the popular roller skating ballroom.

But over time, roller skating lost popularity and the park, flooded numerous times in the 20 years since the ballroom closed in 1985, was overrun with brush and weeds.

The park was cleaned up in 2012 after the Island Park nonprofit organization took over ownership of the property and hosted a welcome back festival.

Stirling said the association is working on improvements to the park, including the addition of playground equipment and upgraded camping facilities with concrete pads and electrical outlets.

The association will hold its annual spring cleanup day in April or May and is continuing to sell memberships at $25 per year for a household.

“Nobody’s making anything off it. We’re just hoping that we can make the park a fun place to hang out again,” Stirling said.

More information can be found at milltownislandpark.org or by visiting “Milltown Island Park” on Facebook. Those interested in holding an event at Island Park can contact Stirling at 770-3861.

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