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Square dancers whirl away before stroke of midnight at New Year's Eve party

From left, Helene Lind, Ron Engst, and Dean and Linda Brotherton laugh during a square dance New Year's Eve at Park Rapids Century School. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Square dancing enthusiasts rang in the New Year with twirling skirts and shuffling feet at Century School in Park Rapids.

Dancing was held on New Year's Eve from 8-10 p.m., food and socializing from 10-11 p.m. and more dancing until midnight and beyond.

Ron Engst, a member of the Friendly Squares in Park Rapids, was one person who danced the night away. He started square dancing by accident, he said. At a friend's wedding reception everyone was square dancing so he had to learn. He's been dancing ever since.

"To me, I try to relate it to a family that gets along real well," Engst said about the Friendly Squares group.

He enjoys square dancing for the health benefits.

"It is good exercise," he said.

Square dancing is also good for the mind because a person has to listen to the calls and then do them, he added.

Mike and Donna Stone also danced on New Year's Eve. They were instrumental in starting round dancing in the area a few years ago. It's a choreographed social dance, like square dancing, but it's more individual, Donna Stone said. She cues the round dances between square dances.

The couple enjoys dancing nights.

"We like the people so much," Donna Stone said. "We've made so many friends."

Many couples were dressed in matching outfits on New Year's Eve, including Dean and Linda Brotherton. Dean joked, however, that he won't wear a skirt like his wife.

The Friendly Squares meet regularly the second and fourth Fridays of the month at Century School. All dancers are welcome.