LORAIN — Milagros Santiago, clad in zombie attire, said she’s never been much of a dancer, but she forgot that when she lined up with more than 20 others who imitated Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance.
Milagros danced alongside her 8-year-old daughter and David Ramirez, the owner of Club Copa who showed up dressed as the pop icon. The group was eager to show off the steps they learned during weeks of practice leading up to Lorain’s A Day of the Zombie/Halloween Fun event, where the dance was performed.
Santiago said the zombie event was a coming together of sorts for the community, which is working to revitalize the city’s downtown.
“I love being part of the community — downtown Lorain,” she said.
Santiago added that her daughter was excited to dress up as a zombie and perform the “Thriller” dance.
“She’s a big fan of Michael Jackson,” she said, laughing.
The dance was organized by Valerie Dillard, who is part of the Downtown Lorain Christmas Council. Dillard said she wanted to organize it after reading about the Thrill the World campaign online.
The Thrill the World campaign is a dance tribute of world-record proportions.
It began in 2006 in Toronto with 62 participants. After Jackson’s death in June 2009, a new interest was sparked in the event — setting a world record with 22,571 people from 33 nations simultaneously performing “Thriller,” according to www.Thrilltheworld.com.
Those who participate are given set times to perform the dance and also must have the event videotaped and pictures uploaded. The goal is to be counted in the Guinness World Records.
The Thrill the World campaign also is used to raise money for the charity of the organizer’s choice. Money from Lorain’s event will be donated to the Downtown Lorain Council and the Move It! Dance Project’s scholarship fund.
Alicia Smith is the artistic director for the Move It! Dance Project, which is centered at the Boys and Girl’s Club in Lorain. Smith taught the choreography for the Thriller dance and said, while it was difficult to teach the dance to people of various skill-sets, she said everyone had fun.
“The challenge was to keep it light and fun, but the other challenge was to keep people encouraged,” she said. “I was really proud of my ‘Thriller’ students. This was our first time all being together.”
Smith, who has a background in dance, said teaching is her passion. She hopes through teaching dance, she can reach out to the youth of Lorain, who she said all face challenges, including bullying.
Smith said the girls involved in the Move It! Dance Project are part of a positive environment that encourages friendships and acceptance. The project is more than just a dance group, she said.
“We decided that we really wanted to do something for the children, the girls particularly, of Lorain,” she said. “We’re building an army of young girls who stand up against bullying and stand up for each other.”
In addition to the Move It! Dance Project, other groups had involvement in Saturday’s zombie event.
Make-up artists were on hand to “zombify” attendees, and psychic readings were given.
The Lorain Palace Theater hosted ghost hunting with the Ohio Researchers of Banded Spirits from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.. At 8 p.m., Aaron Radatz, the Master of Illusions, performed.
Guided “Terror Walks in the Evils Nest,” at 575 Broadway, were also held. For $10, tours will be offered from 7 to 10 tonight as well.