Night creatures call


By Sheryl Roadcap

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TROY — “Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand/Creatures crawling in search of blood/ To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood … The foulest stench is in the air/The funk of 40,000 years/And grisly ghouls of every tomb/Are closing in to seal your doom …” This was the dance scene recreated from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video by 15 members of the Miami County YMCA Robinson Branch’s Silver Sneakers in a gym at the Y’s ahead of Miami County’s beggars night on Thursday, Oct. 26. Just in time for Halloween, the group made the video to put on YouTube.

“The idea originally came up three years ago when Liz (Dugas) came to me and said we should do this (dance re-enactment) again and so we decided to do it again,” said Sierra Woodyard, director of health and wellness at the Robinson Branch.

She explained that compared to three years ago when they first got the idea, now they had a larger class that would be more interested in participating. So, she learned the dance choreography and taught the group starting the second week of August.

“It was all by word of mouth in August,” Woodyard said of how the group formed to participate in the YouTube video. “I didn’t put out a flyer or formal notice.”

In the end, the group of members who participated Thursday included: Dan and Joan Swank, Dee Hammers, Chris Vegardes, Liz Dugas, Suzy Eberhardt, Judy and Bob Oberlander, Gwen Miller, Kenna Elleman, Curtis and Sandy Bailey, Donna Houseman, Mary Ann Mote, Candia Cyr, and Woodyard in the role of Michael Jackson. All dressed up in their zombie gear, hair and makeup, the group of 16 took three takes for the video with the lights turned way down and fog in the air, dancing in front of a dark background with“Thriller” blaring throughout the gymnasium that was only filled with participants and limited onlookers.

“The hope, between YouTube and TikTok is for (the video) to get big enough to get on the Kelly Clarkson show,” Woodyard said.

They are already planning to wear matching track suits, if invited to appear on Clarkson’s show.

To make the dancers look like real zombies, after Woodyard reached out, approximately 46 Upper Valley Career Center cosmetology students agreed to help the dance participants, who varied in ages from 64 to 77. On Thursday, in one of the YMCA’s gyms, the students worked for close to an hour to create the zombie makeup look and tease out their hair.

“They were amazing,” said Sandy Bailey, of Troy, of the students’ work.

“I talked to gals who did ours, and she said when they first talked about it, they thought they it was going to be kids’ faces they were going to paint,” Dan Swank, of Troy, said with a laugh.

Woodyard’s good friend Kyle Thompson served as the videographer and editor for the YouTube video. Her cousin Kayla Goubeux plans to put the video on TikTok, with the hope of it going viral.

Their Robinson Branch Silver Sneakers group already meets three times a week, but in addition to their regular classes, this group also practiced three times a week for the last two months. Many of the dancers lamented over the practices coming to an end, as they grew to enjoy their time together and new friendships made.

“I don’t know what we are going to do now. We really got to know each other,” one of the participants shared when the group was talking about how much they enjoyed the process and the extra time together.

“It was wonderful (of doing the video). And it was very fun getting to know each other,” Gwen Miller, of Tipp City, said.

“That’s what Sierra does. She has the largest Silver Sneakers group around. She builds a community,” Dan Swank said.

“She let’s us be us,” another person added.

“And if we couldn’t do the move, she said just do it your way,” a different group member shared.

“And I can’t dance, and she let me dance,” Curtis Bailey, the oldest member said, with a big smile.

To view the “Thriller” re-enactment video, which will be posted by Friday evening, visit the YMCA’s YouTube page at

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