Riders enjoy ice cream, relax in Moravia

Moravia, Ia. — “What’s with the stars?” one rider wondered aloud while riding into this town of 680.

The stars were painted white on the route through town. Some three-dimensional versions hung from homes.

Some of the townsfolk are still confused about the story behind the stars, but longtime resident Lois Van Zante was able to clarify it. She and her husband Ron grew up here, left to find work in eastern Iowa, and returned 30 years ago to farm nearby.

The stars are a mainstay in this town during the Christmas season, but it wasn’t until about 15 years ago that residents researched the meaning behind them, Lois Van Zante said.


The Moravian star is a symbol of the Moravian Church, a protestant denomination that originated in Europe in the late 14th Century.

The town was founded about 130 years ago by Moravian followers, but Van Zante said no believers are left. The only Moravian church in town has since burned down.

Riders swarmed the town square around midday to eat, unwind and nap. Temperatures neared 80 degrees. Some riders cooled off with homemade ice cream made on the spot by about a dozen people from an Amish community near Centerville, about 13 miles south of here.


“Everything they do is top notch,” said Jim Tafolla, 65, of Montezuma, who was readying himself for the monster hills that he heard lie ahead on today’s route. “I might be walking my bike, like they walk with their horses.”

Amish community member Wallace Coblentz said their baked goods and ice cream were very popular with cyclists. This is his first time selling goods on RAGBRAI, and it’s been “everything I expected, and almost more,” Coblentz said.

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