Reid Armstrong: Bringing the Thrill to Fraser
October 29, 2010
The year was 1984. Michael Jackson was at the top of his game – every leg-warmer-wearing 9-year-old in town was Moonwalking to their cassette tape, listening with foam-covered headphones on their Walkman.
It was around the same time that my friends and I would gather in Zoe Burkholder’s basement, wearing our terrycloth headbands and wrist bands, and practice the moves for Flashdance while watching the music video starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri, which my friend had taped off the fairly new and wildly popular cable channel MTV using her VCR (Video Cassette Recorder).
Ah, good times.
Jackson had recently released his 14-minute Thriller video for MTV. Not being a huge fan of the whole Poltergeist/Firestarter genre, I usually flipped channels when Thriller came on. Watching a couple return from a night at the movies only to be attacked by a hoard of blood-thirsty zombies wasn’t really my thing.
I was secretly obsessed with watching reruns of Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert in Little House on the Prairie.
But, Zombies were the thing to be that Halloween, (sort of like the Scream guy in the late ’90s), and Zombies will again be all the rage in Fraser this year.
Deb Harris will be leading a Flashdance-inspired mob in a street performance of Thriller in Fraser on Halloween night.
Dozens of zombies will rise from Eisenhower Drive at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, and re-enact 5 minutes of the epic Thriller dance in a kick-off to trick-or-treating.
“I got the idea because I have a 14-year-old son and thought it would be nice if they had something else to do other than trick-or-treating,” Harris said. “As they get older its more about tricking than treating.”
Harris had the idea of doing a flash mob dance version of Thriller before she heard about the “Thrill the World” movement, which is trying to set the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people performing the same dance at once. While Fraser won’t be any match for the crowd of 22,596 people in 264 cities from 33 countries that danced “Thriller” at exactly the same time in 2009, it will still be a fun way to celebrate Halloween, Harris said.
Harris has “no dance background whatsoever” herself but has been using the training materials available through the Thrill the World website to learn the moves and teach them.
She added that the dance has been dumbed down for people. “It’s a bit of a workout,” she said, “but you can have it down in about 2 hours.”
Already some 20-30 people, ages 7 to 50, have heard about the dance in Fraser through word-of-mouth and have started practicing.
Harris said that she has never organized anything like this before, but she thought it would be fun for people to have something else to do on Halloween.
“We’re in the middle of that lull, waiting with bated breath for ski season,” she said. “This is already bigger than I anticipated and it’s a lot of fun.”
Mike Turner with the local TV station is going to be there to provide the sound system and videotape the performance.
“If we have enough of a show, we may even make it to TV,” Harris said.
On Friday, from 5-7 p.m., anybody who is interested in participating on Sunday is invited to a practice at Fraser Historic Church.
On Halloween night, the performers will gather in the parking lot of the church around 5:45 p.m. The dance will kick off under the street lights at 6 p.m.
Participation is free and potential zombies can sign up with the Rec Center by calling 726-8968 or just show up.
Harris, who was in her 20s when the Thriller video came out, said she wasn’t originally a Michael Jackson fan.
“He’ll probably turn over in his grave when we do this,” she said.
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