‘Zip to Zap’ 50 years later: A more peaceful celebration

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ZAP, N.D. (AP) — The small North Dakota community of Zap is planning to celebrate spring break 1969, when thousands of college students partied in the streets until the National Guard came in to clear them out.

Organizers are planning a more family-oriented event on May 11 to celebrate the original “Zip to Zap” party in the town roughly 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Bismarck, the Minot Daily News reported.

A North Dakota State University student came up with the idea for the original event, which was pitched at students from around the state who couldn’t afford a trip to Florida or some other warm locale. The idea took off, with an estimated 3,000 young people descending on the town of roughly 300 residents.

Bruce Christianson said that by the time he and some of his Minot State College fraternity brothers drove 100 miles (160 kilometers) to Zap, the roads into town were blocked by law enforcement. But he found a way to sneak in and to party in the town’s streets.

“There were students all over the place,” Christianson recalled. “Everybody was having a great time.”

Christianson said he didn’t see any party-goers engaging in behavior that warranted a response from the National Guard. But revelers set a bonfire on Main Street and caused about $25,000 in damage before the Guard and other law enforcement dispersed the crowd.

This weekend’s celebrations will start with a 5K race, followed by a car show and concerts.

Richard Simenson, who is organizing the car show, said up to 1,500 people are expected to attend.

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