Follow the link for the story of Park High’s famous dance line and Vikings cheerleaders.
Follow the link for the story of the brief but memorable tenure of six Parkettes who served as cheerleaders for the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team.
The Pomperettes was a dance team that was formed in 1956 and included St. Louis Park High graduates. The group performed at U of M sports events. The idea was taken from a similar group at Berkeley. The team was discontinued in 1963.
The Historical Society has been visited by Bob Patrin, who developed a St. Louis Park-related dance team. See the complete story in the Fall 2006 issue of Hennepin History newsletter. Here’s how Bob Reiss wrote it up:
In 1955 there were few cheerleader/dance line opportunities for girls. Roosevelt High was the only high school with a dance team in Minneapolis. Bob Patrin, a soldier returning to the University of Minnesota, had observed girls performing at a football game at Berkeley. He wanted to organize something similar for the Minnesota Gophers.
As a student coach at Minnesota, Patrin had access to Ike Armstrong, the athletic director. At first Armstrong was opposed to short skirted co-eds appearing on the sidelines for football games. He relented after seeing films of west coast performances, and he signed a contract with Patrin to provide cheerleader/dancers for the 1955 football game – with the restriction that the girls’ skirts reached below the knees and that they wear sweaters.
The first recruit was a former Parkette who was attending the U. She recruited her friends, so most of the first Pomperettes were former Parkettes. Patrin was not able to get ready for the 1955 football season, so the first performances were for basketball and hockey teams in 1956. Even then there were problems: the Minnesota Band did not like the distraction and it was difficult to get them to play the girls’ music. But group thrived and made a trip to the Rose Bowl in 1962.
The Pomperettes and the Parkettes found themselves in competition with each other for performances. Both performed at various times for the Minneapolis Lakers. When the Vikings came to town in 1961, Patrin formed the Vi-Queens, with some SLP members, and the girls performed for the team for two years. Although the Vikings wanted to continue the contract, Patrin could not provide the girls, nor did he have adequate practice room. The Parkettes were able to provide what was needed and became the Vikings’ cheerleaders for several years. Both the Pomperettes and the Vi-Queens ended their run in 1963.
The St. Louis Park Precisionairres were established in 1971. In 1972 they won the Minnesota State Juvenile Corp. Championship.
The Pirateers were affiliated with the VFW, although members’ parents were not required to be members of the VFW. Janice was the original organizer of the Pirateers. She made up the routines, designed the uniforms, scheduled the competitions all under the supervision of the VFW. They had a flag team and a rifle squad, and one year they traveled to Michigan for a National competition. Cindy Farkas Terlson says they wore black hats with orange feathers and the dresses were made of vinyl. They drilled with wooden rifles.
Cindy: “We would compete in school gyms. We would have to put duct tape on the bottom of our boots so as not to scuff the floors. I think we practiced in a large room at the VFW if I recall.”
Cindy went on to explain that in the late ’60s the group had lost a lot of girls and the VFW pulled sponsorship of the organization. The girls continued, though, even without uniforms. After one year they would march with the St. Paul Mounties Drum and Bugle Corp to help them, since they didn’t have a color guard. “In 1971 we were absorbed into their group. Linda Simmons was also the drill team instructor of that organization. When we moved to the Mounties we would practice during the summer in an airplane hanger at the terminal and behind Sun Ray Shopping Center and a National Armory during the winter.” The Mounties were featured as an exhibition unit in the 1973 Aquatennial Grande Day and Torchlight Parades and the Queen of the Lakes Drum and Bugle Pageant.