In Focus: Pine River’s Masked Ball Making Its Way Back To Town
What was once a retail store is now known as River Fitness, but this fitness center isn’t your typical community gym. One special feature that makes this center unique is the discovery of the beautiful original wood flooring which is a staple asset for the community.
“We started looking at it and we saw the ceiling and the floor and we wanted to restore it to somewhat of its original feel, and once we did that we saw the space, I said, ‘let’s just have it for a dance studio and ballet and whatever else it could be used for the community.'” said Gavin Gensmer, Co-owner of River Fitness. “And then Heritage Group had some interest in it and said, ‘well, let’s just try to do a dance in here and try to use the ballroom for what it used to be.’ They used to have balls in the area, in Pine River, and this building is from 1922, this side, so we thought, ‘let’s try to get something going for the community itself.'”
The Masked Ball is a Pine River tradition that started in 1901, and almost everyone in town would attend. The idea to bring back this special tradition was the purchase of the building and a joint community effort to teach Pine River’s history.
“First of all, Heritage Group North is very interested in teaching something about the history of this local community, so that was one of our goals and they will learn about history, we have many different layers. First of all, the masked ball portion of it those balls started in 1901, and we’ll go over that, but the one that’s really patterned after is the one on New Year’s Eve 1908,” said Pat Johnson, Event Coordinator.
Co-owners Sharon and Gavin Gensmer have owned River Fitness for three years now and have been in this specific location for a year. They say they like to use this specific room as way to provide the community with dance lessons, yoga and events such as the masked ball.
“And then it really came to life because Gavin and Sharon Gensmer purchased this building and they had not only the workforce but the drive to discover this beautiful wood floor and the tin ceiling that was all original to the Hill Hardware building that was built in 1922,” said Johnson. “So it was really Gavin and Sharon that really motivated us to do the masked ball because as you can see, this room lends itself beautifully to a ball, and they were gracious enough to continue on that journey in planning this event,”
River Fitness is excited to provide opportunities to the community such as the Masked Ball and other aspects of fitness. Heritage Group North also received $2,240 from the Five Wings Arts Council which funded the orchestra and provided music for the ball.
The Masked Ball takes place Saturday, November 23 from 7 to 10 PM in the ballroom at River Fitness on Barclay Avenue in Pine River. Tickets are $30, and participants are asked to wear masks for the dance.