Northern Lights help resurrect a tradition

MORRISONVILLE - The North Country Squares Dance Club has resurrected an old tradition with the help of the Northern Lights Square Dance Club in Champlain.

The two square dancing organizations have brought back the popularity of banner runs, which involve clubs visiting one another and "stealing" the traveling banner which bears the other club's name. The tradition is one started "years ago," said North Country Squares co-president Celeste Roy, but fell by the wayside in recent years.

"We wanted to bring it back to life. So, last fall, we visited the Northern Lights club and took their banner," explained Roy. "And, in order to get it back, they had to come to our club."

The Northern Lights club did, recently visiting the North Country Squares on their home turf at the Clinton County Fairgrounds.

Mary Bachelder, co-president of the Northern Lights club, said the banner run is old-fashioned fun that breathes new life into the square dancing club circuit.

"It's a good practice because it gives you a reason to go to each other's clubs more," said Bachelder. "It promotes people to travel more and

meet the other square dancers in their area."

The two clubs are the only ones left of their kind in the area, said Bachelder, who noted the closest clubs similar to them are in Montreal and Vermont.

"We've visited the clubs in Montreal but now it's difficult for some of our members to go there because they don't have passports," said Bachelder, referring to the federal government stepping up border crossing requirements last year.

While the North Country Squares club has 104 members, the Northern Lights club has only 27.

"It's dwindling," Bachelder said of interest she's seen in square dancing.

However, bringing back activities like banner runs is something both Bachelder and Roy hope will spark new interest in what they consider to be "a fun time."

"This is a great way for the local clubs to socialize and get to know each other better," said Roy, "and for people to see how fun square dancing really is."

"We have a small club. Small, but fun," said Bachelder, laughing.

The North Country Squares Dance Club meets regularly at the Clinton County Fairgrounds and may be reached by calling Roy at 492-2057 or co-president Dick Crawford at 561-7167. The Northern Lights Square Dance Club meets regularly at Northeastern Clinton Central School in Champlain and may be reached by calling co-presidents Mary or Arthur Bachelder at 298-4599.

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