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Saturday, June 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho Voices

Dust off poodle skirts, penny loafers

By Patty Hutchens

In the world of text messaging, Twitter and Facebook, people often long for a taste of the simpler days.

In Sandpoint from May 14 through 17 the clocks will be turned back 50 years as baby boomers, young professionals and schoolkids don poodle skirts, penny loafers and rolled-up jeans; men and boys will slick back their hair and the town will be transformed into a scene from the 1950s. Vintage cars will be the norm, as will the music of Elvis, Ricky Nelson, The Platters and Fats Domino. Sandpoint’s Lost in the ’50s weekend, now in its 24th year, draws people from faraway places and has become a favorite tradition for many.

“It’s a lot of fun for the community,” said Barb Merritt, who has been a volunteer for the event for the last several years. “And most of the people who enjoy it weren’t even around in the ’50s.”

People will gather on May 14 at the historic downtown Panida Theater to kick off the weekend with Rock ’N’ Roll Heaven.

“Elvis will be back,” said Merritt, as will other entertaining impersonators.

On May 15, vintage cars will parade the streets of downtown Sandpoint. Following the parade will be a street dance, sponsored by Sandpoint radio station 106.7 The Point, between Second and Third avenues on Main Street. The dance is a big attraction for young and old.

Both evenings there will be a dance and show at Bonner County Fairgrounds. Both nights will feature the music of the Crystals, Johnny Thunder and Florida-based band Rocky and the Rollers. It is open to anyone 21 and older, with tickets available at the door or at Second Avenue Pizza in Sandpoint.

Organizers say many don’t know it was the Crystals – an all-female group – who recorded the original versions of “It’s My Party” and “Chapel of Love.” However, the versions recorded by the Crystals were never released and instead were recorded by other female artists.

Johnny Thunder grew up in Florida and left to begin a singing career in New York as a young man. Over the years he toured with the Ink Spots and was a member of the Drifters after the departure of Ben E. King, who left to pursue a solo career.

Also performing at the Bonner County Fairgrounds is a favorite among many who attend Lost in the ’50s – Rocky and the Rollers.

Organizers say Rocky and the Rollers will visit Sandpoint for the 16th year for this event and have become one of the cornerstones of the weekend.

On May 16, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., cars will line the streets of downtown Sandpoint, vendors will barbecue and music will play as spectators view the vintage cars.

“Many of the restaurants have special menus for Lost in the ’50s,” said Merritt.

Whether or not they are fans of old cars, Merritt said many come because of the atmosphere.

“I love the old music and cars,” said Merritt. “But most important I love that this is a community event. It kicks off the summer in Sandpoint.”

Taking part in the weekend are many civic groups and Sandpoint High School service groups, serving food, setting up for the concert and helping with the many needs.

Finally on May 17, the Aspirin Rally-Run will be held. A 5K fun run, sponsored in part by the Sandpoint running club Cardio-Junkies, it will take place at 10 a.m. followed by a car rally at 11:20 a.m.

Merritt credits founder Carolyn Gleason with bringing such a wonderful event to Sandpoint and keeping it going so many years.

“Here you have a woman who had an idea 24 years ago, and she and her little band of revelers just keep going,” said Merritt, who adds that volunteers are always needed.

“It takes a lot of people to put it on, but it’s very rewarding when you sit back after it’s all over and can say you really did something that helped the community,” said Merritt.

Anyone who would like to participate in the car parade on May 15 needs to be at Sandpoint High School on Highway 2 and Division no later than 5 p.m. for the 6 p.m. start time. If you would like to volunteer to help during the Lost in the ’50s weekend, contact Barb Merritt at (208) 290-1323 or call (208) 265-LOST.

Contact correspondent Patty Hutchens by e-mail at

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