Seattle, the center of Central Puget Sound Council, was also the birthplace of the State Federation in March, 1948. It all began in the minds of Almon Parker of Seattle and other state leaders in square dancing. After much correspondence, plans for the formation of the Federation were drawn up by a committee of nine headed by Allen Potter of Seattle and a charter was drawn up on March 10, 1948. By October 1951, the Federation had four Councils: Central Puget Sound, Sou’Wester, Central and North Central.
Central Puget Sound Council stretched from Pierce County to the Canadian Border and across the Sound to Kitsap County. In October 1953, parts of the South and West of CPSC were formed into Rainier Council. In 1970 a larger portion of the north end of Central Puget Sound Council was organized as Mt. Baker Council. Council borders now include King County and overlaps Pierce and Snohomish counties.
Early history of Central Puget Sound Council probably began in 1940 with the square and round dance classes taught for four years by Allen Potter at the YMCA and later at the YWCA. In the spring of 1944, the YMCA and YWCA sponsored Dr. Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw at a three-day institute. Dr. Shaw was a square dance authority from Colorado Spring, CO, who toured the country, including Seattle several times with the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers. The Square and Circle Club, which met at the YWCA, was started a few weeks later as the direct result of Pappy’s Institute.
The Merry Mixers Club was formed in 1946 and was probably the second of the clubs formed in that era. Three of the clubs members became teachers: the Scot McClanahan’s, the Bert Curtis’s and the Clarence Nelson’s who started classes at Greenlake Field House.
Central Puget Sound Council of the Folk Dance Federation of Washington was formally organized in Seattle on August 26, 1950. On October 11, 1950, officers were elected, a constitution was accepted by the Federation, and the first Council began. The first council directory was published on November 1, 1951 and included four adult and five junior clubs. The first two Council Festival dances were held October 29, 1948 and April 1, 1949 at Greenlake.
Central Puget Sound Council has an active program of dancing with both Spring and Fall Festivals and sometimes a Midwinter Festival. They were an important part of the Seafair Celebration with Seafair Balls in July and August and taking part in Seafair Parades. They also began having summer dances at the Seattle Center House after the 1962 World’s Fair at the Seattle Center and still have them on 2nd and 4th Fridays in June, July and August. They also have October Western Days and Christmas Dances in conjunction with the Seattle Center House management.
CPS Council has hosted four State Festivals in 1956, 1974, “See-Saw your Taw in Issaquah” in 1996, and “Bonding in 007” in 2007.
The Council hosted the 3rd Farwestern Square Dance Convention on July 15-18, 1965 at the Seattle Center.
CPS Council has hosted two National Conventions – the 18th National Convention in 1969, “Seattle is Fine in ’69”, and the 30th National in 1981, “Twice the Fun in ’81”, at the Seattle Center. Square dancing visitors so impressed the Seattle Center personnel, the police and the news media, that they were all asking, “When are you going to have another National convention here?” Alas, other areas have taken over the Nationals as the Seattle Center is too expensive for Federation and Council funds.
CPS Council has provided eight presidents to the Federation beginning with the first and second state presidents, Almon Parker, 1954-55 and Don & Jane Mills 1949-50. Other include Dr. Bill & Fern Price, 1954-55; Gus & Jean Gronlund, 1959-60, Harry & Marge MacGregor, 1964-65; Bill & Lil Twilley, 1968-69, Don & Shirley Blanchard, 1975-76, and Gene & Ella Simmons, 1980-81 .
The Parker Award named for our first State President, Almon Parker, has been presented to ten of the CPS Council caller couples including Rev. Don & Jane Mills, 1952; Allen & Helen Potter, 1953; J. Tremaine & Elinor McGinty, 1956; Ken & Harriet Hartinger, 1960, Gun & Jean Gronlund, 1962; Jack & Marge Johnson, 1975; Jack & Happy Leicht, 1977, Joe & Betty Hall, 1984, Wayne & Annie Easton, 1992, and Kappie & Aileen Kappenman, 1995.
The Harry MacGregor Award was set up to honor active involved Federation members. Seven CPS Council couples have been so honored – Dave & Ann Moroni, 1975; Phil & Kay Hall, 1977, Don & Shirley Blanchard, 1979; Gene & Ella Simmons, 1985; Bob & Ruth Kramer, 1987; Jim & Mary Knight, 1996; and Ron and Pat Hoot, in 2004.
The President’s Award, given to any dancer or caller at the State president’s discretion has been presented to several CPS couples – Don & Shirley Blanchard in 1966 by Harold & Shirley Steely, Ron & Pat Hoot in 1999 by Don & Cheryl Pruitt, Dick & Earlene Beham in 2001 by Roger & Beth Barnes, and Jim & Mary Knight in 2009.
In 1997 CPS Council established the Jack Willison Memorial Award in memory of Jack Willison for all he gave and did for square dancing.
He was a caller, square dancer, and CPS Council officer. The award is presented at the Council Spring Festival to an outstanding couple, single, caller or cuer in CPS Council.
Central Puget Sound Council abounds in many good people like the above clubs and council members. Clubs have square dancing, round dancing, contra, clogging and some line dancing. Club callers and Northwest Round Dance Teachers Association are always ready to help.
History compiled by Ruth Kramer- May 1992; and updated January 2010 and October 2014.