The music and dance moves of Michael Jackson came alive Saturday as dozens of zombies shuffled and shook to the sounds of "Thriller" at the Joyce Fitzpatrick Senior Center in East Islip.
The 70 dancers moved hypnotically to the classic song and moaned in unison as their dance moves were simulcast on the web in an attempt to break the world record for largest simultaneous "Thriller” dance.
The East Islip event was just one of many similar events across the globe that simultaneously danced to Jackson’s “Thriller,” which is one of the late artist’s most iconic music videos. According to the Record Holders Republic website, the world record was set during the 2009 Thrill the World event, in which 22,571 participants danced simultaneously across the globe.
“I was freezing,” said Brianna Dipaola, 16, of Islip, who dressed as a zombie cheerleader. “I would have been better off in Antarctica with shorts.”
The event was also held to help gather food donations for homeless shelters across Long Island. Spectators and dancers were asked to bring nonperishable food donations as their admission fee.
“The rain added a spooky effect that really thrilled our zombies,” said Brian Ramirez, of Central Islip, who organized the fundraiser. “We raised dozens of boxes of food that will be able to feed people all over Long Island.”
This was the second year in which Ramirez organized the event in East Islip, which had twice as many participants than last year.
The international Thrill the World event was started in 2006 by choreographer Ines Markeljevic, and has attracted thousands of dancers each year. Local event coordinators like Ramirez help to bring the Thrill the World events to cities and towns throughout the world.
“The kids put in a lot of effort. They didn’t let the rain stop them,” said Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan, who was among the crowd of about 30 people who showed up to watch the dance.
“I thought it was really amazing,” said zombie dancer Gabriella Ciardullo, 13, of Islip. “It made me feel so cool to be a part of something this big.”
Photo: Dancers dressed as zombies groove to Michael Jackson's "Thriller” at Joyce Fitzpatrick Senior Center in East Islip. (Oct. 29, 2011)