SIKESTON, Mo. -- Sikeston will serve next month as a site for those attempting to break the world record of the largest simultaneous dance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" routine.
Set for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the YMCA of Southeast Missouri in Sikeston, the Sikeston Thrill the World event will consist of a group of individuals dressed as zombies and ghouls dancing the moves from Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" music video. Groups all over the world will also be dancing simultaneously in their respective cities to break a world record and benefit charities.
"This a great opportunity for Sikeston," said Kris Greene, manager of the Sikeston event.
The idea to conduct a Thrill the World event in Sikeston started in January -- before the winter ice storms and before Jackson died on June 25, Greene noted.
"A bunch of (city of Sikeston) employees were talking and wanted to learn how to dance the 'Thriller' dance," recalled Greene, who works as the information technology specialist for the city of Sikeston.
In doing some online research, Greene learned about Thrill the World.
"I found out it was a worldwide movement, and I wanted to make Sikeston a part of it," Greene said.
Greene contacted Thrill the World and registered Sikeston as an official event. She learned the dance within four or five hours over the course of a month.
"I do it every day," Greene said, adding she's shed about 10 pounds since doing the dance.
As a tribute to Jackson in 2006, Ines Markelle began Thrill the World in Toronto, Canada, where 62 people danced and set the world record for the largest group of people performing the "Thriller" dance. In 2007, there were 1,722 people in 52 cities on five continents who danced "Thriller" at exactly the same time.
Last year, 4,179 people from 10 nations simultaneously performed the "Thriller" dance as part of the Thrill the World event organized by Markelle. This year's goal to break the Guinness World Record is to have 270,000 participants.
Anyone wanting to learn the arm-dangling, feet-shuffling routine can access the free online dance lessons at www.thrilltheworld.com/learn/videos.
"These lessons take you step by step through the Thrill the World dance routine with every segment broken down," Greene said. "The lessons teach you words to remember the moves, and then you say the words and do the dance at the same time."
According to the Thrill the World Web site, individuals can learn the dance in an afternoon.
"You don't have to be an experienced dancer. And people of all ages have learned the dance," Greene said.
Greene said she will conduct practice clinics to help participants learn the dance later this month and in October.
The event must also be documented according to requirements from Guinness World Records, Greene said. For every 25 participants, Greene must have a witness who meets Guinness World Records qualifications.
"I'm excited," Greene said. "Even after the Thrill the World, you can do the dance at other parties or events."
Besides looking to break a world record, this is also a food drive event to benefit the SEMO Food Bank in Sikeston. All dancers and onlookers should bring nonperishable food items with them that evening or drop off food items at Sikeston City Hall beginning Oct. 12.
The Thrill the World event is always held the weekend before Halloween, and this year it begins at 12:30 a.m. Oct. 25 Coordinated Universal Time, which is 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 Central Time.
Currently, 42 individuals and 39 dancers from Elite Dance and Cheer of Sikeston have shown interest in participating in Sikeston's October event. Greene said she hopes to get even more participants by Oct. 24, adding they don't have to be from Sikeston -- or even Missouri -- to come to the event.
As of Monday, Sikeston, Kansas City and St. Louis are the only Missouri cities with registered Thrill the World events.
Sign up for Sikeston Thrill the World using the adult and under age registration forms available on the Sikeston Thrill the World Web site at www.Sikestonttw.com. Bring or mail the form to: Kris Greene, Event Manager, 105 E. Center St., Sikeston, MO 63801. Anyone under 18 must have parent or guardian sign the registration form.
Sikeston participants should arrive at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 for sign-ups and a run through of the dance. The dance starts at 7:30 p.m. The countdown is done by cell phone simultaneously around the world.