Ely, IA

"Small town, big hearts"

A little helper ready to spend the day volunteering. (Credit: Melissa Reed)

Ely, Iowa, population 1,776, is 100% family. Once visiting our community, it’s easy to see why houses sell overnight: community includes everyone from kids to the elderly, and you can’t help but feel right at home whether you’re visiting for a while or just passing through. Ely is one of the Nicest Places in America because of the overwhelming sense of community pride and togetherness.

No parade is complete without a camel — even if it’s 10 degrees outside! (Credit: Melissa Reed)

Stories About Ely

The community of Ely has so many outstanding volunteers and businesses that make the town stand out, from the Halloween Spook Walk, where over 400 kids go trick-or-treating from business to business, to Winterfest’s live reindeer, sleigh rides, light up Santa parade, and family photos all for free! You will want to join the Ely Friends Facebook page (appropriately named) to find out what is going on at the American Legion Post, claim your lost glasses found on the bike trail, or a ride into Cedar Rapids. So many small towns outside a larger one are just bedroom communities, but families are growing up together and raised by a village.

An Ely resident gets skating lesson on the town’s new rink from a Rough Rider, Cedar Rapids’ semi-pro hockey team. (Credit: Melissa Reed)

This month, we had a volunteer banquet and honored Ely’s Most Committed Volunteer for the past 40 years, longtime volunteer firefighter Jim Miller. We have deemed May 17th Jim Miller Day, a day to volunteer in Ely. There is a bike path that goes from Ely to Cedar Rapids and beyond. Groups post rides in the Ely Bike and Brew Crew so everyone can ride together. The community events at the Legion like corn hole tournaments, dances, first-rate comedians, spaghetti dinners, chili cook-offs, and dance and art classes provide constant entertainment opportunities. They’re all possible thanks to volunteer efforts, and fun for the whole family.

Volunteers plant trees on the town’s Community Cleanup Day. (Credit: Melissa Reed)
Everyone made time to lend a hand in planting during Earth Week. (Credit: Melissa Reed)