YMCA to mark 135 years of service to the community with special event, open house

Picnic, open house, outdoor entertainment and games planned; general public is invited to attend classes and use the facility

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This historic, undated photo shows families enjoying the Grand Forks YMCA swimming pool. On Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, the YMCA will celebrate 135 years of service to the community, evolving to become a hub of activity for adult fitness, youth sports, aquatics, lifeguard training, and other specialized programs to promote healthy living. (Photo courtesy of Altru Family YMCA)

The Altru Family YMCA is celebrating 135 years of service to the community with a picnic and open house from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 26.

The event will feature tours of the facility and outdoor entertainment, refreshments, music, games and activities.

Mayor Brandon Bochenski is scheduled to speak to the gathering of YMCA members and guests at 4:45 p.m.

The YMCA will be open to the public from 4 o.m. to 9 p.m. for tours and guests are welcome to attend a class or use the Fitness Center, gyms and racquetball courts. They may also use the swimming pool at no charge, but some limitations may apply. For a schedule of classes, go to .

The YMCA’s service to the community dates back to March 26, 1886, when the organization was launched through a collaboration of churches and lay members, according to Bob McWilliams, the Y’s president and CEO.


Although the YMCA originated in London, in 1884, as an association to “promote the moral welfare of young men,” the organization has evolved worldwide as an important resource for men, women and children of all faiths, races, abilities, ages and incomes, McWilliams said.

The Altru Family YMCA has been located in a few sites in the city, most notably the stately building on North Fifth Street, he said. That three-story building housed a gymnasium, dormitory, swimming pool, bowling alley and more.

The efforts made by countless Grand Forks area community and business leaders have guided the Y from the very beginning to the present day, he said.

The current facility, at 217 N. Seventh St., was constructed in 1969 as a modern, state-of-the-art “YMCA Family Center,” with an Olympic-size swimming pool. It offers adult fitness, youth sports, aquatics, lifeguard and CPR training, childcare, camps and specialized programs like Parkinson Wellness, “Livestrong” for those who are dealing with or have survived cancer, and “Med Fit.”

For more information about the Altru Family YMCA, visit or .

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A wide range of exercise and fitness classes have been available at the Altru Family YMCA for decades, as evidenced by this undated photo taken at the facility. On Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, the YMCA will celebrate 135 years of service to the community with a picnic, open house, refreshments, music, games and activities from 4 to 9 p.m. (Photo courtesy of Altru Family YMCA)

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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