Sunday swimming OK, after church

Associated Press

EDGERTON, Minn. -- For the first time in this conservative Dutch community, the public swimming pool is open on Sundays -- but not during church hours.

By a 3-2 vote, the City Council agreed to open the pool on Sundays during the month of June, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. The experiment has been extended for the summer, with some dissent in the community.

"I think Sunday's a day of rest and attending church," said Harley Buys. "The Lord gave us six days to work and the seventh not to." Buys belongs to Bethel Christian Reformed Church, whose members circulated a petition opposing the pool opening.

Virtually nothing else, except Edgerton's five churches, is open on Sunday -- no gas station, restaurant, hardware or convenience store. You can buy gasoline with a credit card, but there's no attendant.


In some ways Edgerton continues the spirit of Colonial-era blue laws -- originally printed on blue paper -- that once restricted commercial activity and entertainment on Sundays across the nation, and still do in some cases. Either by court decision or legislative action, most states have abolished most blue laws.

Minnesota grocery stores were closed by law on Sundays until 1962 and by labor contracts in some areas until 1987. Auto dealers remain closed on Sunday, but the 1985 Legislature repealed a law that had banned sales of clothing, shoes and most other goods.

It's custom, not law, that dictates closings in Edgerton, a southwestern Minnesota city of about 1,000 known for its 1960 Cinderella high school basketball champions, the smallest school to win the one-class tournament.

The 25-by-22-yard, L-shaped pool, in a park that displays a Dutch windmill, was built by volunteers who deeded it to the city. Some say a Sunday closing was understood from the beginning.

The Sunday opening idea was brought to the council by pool manager Shanna De Boer, a public school sixth-grade teacher. There had been requests over the years, she said, and "I just asked if we could have it open. I thought we could make it work."

Mayor Jim Achterhoff, who cast the deciding vote, said the pool would provide a wholesome activity for people who hold picnics or family gatherings in the park, or who have to work Saturdays. Residents wouldn't have to leave town for a lake miles away, he said.

During Sunday pool hours, "working people come," often with their families, said lifeguard Kala Menning, a college student. Often "there are close to 100, so it's been pretty full."

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