Robin Holden grew up in Shellrock. She then moved around the world to work in Saudi Arabia, where she had five children. But in 2009, she brought her family back to her hometown, which is a block away from her childhood home.
“I’m a firm believer in small town Iowa growing up in a small town,” she said. I think it’s a simple thing.”
For Holden, the quality of life for children and families is what makes small-town living special.
“We need to have something for young people,” she said. “That’s the nature of your community. You have to do these activities for your family.”
And she thinks Shell Rock excels at that.
Holden is a strong believer in the importance of family-friendly activities, and has introduced her own events to the town, including Shell Rock’s Christmas Tree Lighting and the Halloween Pumpkin Patch.
A member of the Shell Rock City Council, she was named event coordinator for the town by Mayor Larry Young.
Holden first conceived of the tree-lighting event five years ago as a celebration of the City Hall tree that Marilyn Hardy decorates each year. Santa arrived in a fire truck and there was live Christmas music, along with free meals, cookie decorating, and other indoor activities. The event was so successful that the city repeated it.
“Then COVID hit,” Holden said. Nonetheless, “I was bound and determined to do the event.” She did it by moving it out of downtown Shellrock.
“So I came up with a Halloween-esque stocking stuffer roll,” she explained.
Around 300 people attended the 2020 event, which Holden estimates has “grown a bit from there.”
Last year they added a Christmas village around the Christmas tree. The facade of the building is painted, and this year it has doubled in size.
“I think it’s pretty cute,” she said.
There is still music and free food inside, as well as a mailbox for letters to Santa.
“Santa responds,” Holden said.
Santa makes his appearance in a fire truck with Mrs. Santa Claus to the delight of the children.
“People were commenting like it was a Hallmark movie moment in Shell Rock,” Holden said. “When Santa (and Mrs. Claus) came to town, they were welcomed like rock stars. All the kids roared. It was a really cool, cool moment for the community.”
The entire celebration is free, as the Halloween Pumpkin Patch is also held in the center of town. That event includes a community-wide pumpkin carving contest, Halloween music, free candy, popcorn, and a 16-foot inflatable pumpkin in the middle.
“It’s a good two-hour night where people can stop by and take pictures and have fun,” Holden said.
Although she holds the official title of event coordinator, Holden would be the first to say that she doesn’t arrange all the family-friendly activities in town. She said that Shellrock’s famous Sunday in the Park event, part of her Fourth of July celebration, “is a great Shellrock event.”
The 4th of July Committee also conducts year-round fundraising activities focused on children, including an Easter egg hunt and movie nights.
Casey Reints has three young children and participates in many Shell Rock family activities.
“We always pull the kids to something,” she said. And I love small parks.
“The library is a great resource and place for families to spend quality time together,” she continued. The whole event is always a family favorite.”
Reints has been at several events, and for the past two years has helped coordinate the annual Kiddie Parade at the 4th of July celebration, along with two other moms.
“I encourage my kids to dress for each year’s theme,” she said, adding, “The kids march downtown in front of the bandstand.”
Every child who attends will enter a raffle to win one of a dozen new bikes and helmets, she said. .”
Reints is helping launch a farmers market in Shell Rock next year and hopes to have family-friendly activities there as well.
Like Reints, Holden appreciates the town’s family-friendly amenities. Swimming pools and city parks are “irreplaceable,” she said. “I hear from a lot of people that it’s a great park. The pool is great. It’s accessible and special needs. gather people from
A major city park, McCaig Park not only has a new aquatic center and expansive playground, but also the city ballpark where the Waverly and Shell Rock teams play in the summer.
“From May to July 4th, there are probably 430 to 450 T-ball kids and Little League kids in Shell Rock,” said Shell Rock City Councilman Mike Kleinfelter.
The Shell Rock Public Library also offers regular activities for children, especially after school and in the summer. The school’s reading program brings his first grade and her second grade preschoolers to the library once a month, according to Michelle Randolph, the library’s associate director.
Micky Bahlmann, principal of Shell Rock Elementary, said the community provides excellent support for young people.
“We are able to do something with the community because of the incredible support they have,” she said, including “a really great relationship with the Shell Rock Care Center” and a “great downtown that is so supportive.” Told. Merchants trick-or-treat on Halloween. Our students only walk a few blocks downtown and the merchants are greeting the students.
In addition to helping plan events for the town, Reints, like Holden, has contributed to some of the most recent major architectural projects, including the Shell Rock Aquatic Center.
“I’m so happy to know that the projects I’ve been involved in have helped create memories and family traditions,” she said. More and more families are coming from out of town to use the facilities.”