WADSWORTH — More than 200 zombie dancers made their way through Wadsworth’s historic downtown in the cool air Thursday evening as part of the annual Main Street Wadsworth Scare on the Square and Wadsworth Thriller performance.
Main Street Wadsworth Executive Director Adrianne Krauss, who played the role of Ola Ray, said local dentist Alex McIlvaine and his wife are really the driving force behind the annual zombie flash mob that takes to the streets of downtown Wadsworth.
“It is done by Alex and Lori McIlvaine,” she said. “Alex plays Michael Jackson his wife, Lori, teaches the dance. … It is because of the two of them that we can do this at all.”
Mayor Robin Laubaugh said the event, which began in 2013, brings thousands of people into downtown Wadsworth.
“The year that they first started was in 2013, and the reason why is we were trying to do something different for the bicentennial and they wanted to have kind of a trial run, so they did kind of as a surprise in 2013,” Laubaugh said during the event.
Laubaugh said it is “thrilling” to see the Wadsworth community come together for not only the “Thriller”dance, but also for the trick-or-treating at local businesses and the different activities going on during the evening.
Hope Evans-Oliver, of Akron, stood across from the neon marquee of the Strand Theater on Broad Street to watch her son and his family perform the “Thriller” dance made famous by Jackson in 1982.
“This is my first time out (to Scare on the Square), only because it is my son’s first time performing,” she said. “They have been practicing for a couple of weeks now. We are excited.”
Kevin Zita and Kimberly Cashin, of Independence, sported matching pumpkin costumes to enjoy the event. Cashin said it was her first time attending the event, but she has heard good things about it from Zita.
“I am a student teacher at Wadsworth Elementary, and I like to see all the kids that I student-taught dressed up,” she said. “I always hear that it is a good show to watch, and I have never seen it.”
Zita said the event has grown and there seems to be a growing involvement from downtown Wadsworth’s business community.
“I haven’t been for a couple years, but it got a lot bigger from what I remember, especially this zombie thing they are doing is pretty cool,” Zita said in the minutes before the dancers stepped off. “I don’t remember all the businesses being this active.”
Krauss said anyone is welcome to participate in the annual “Thriller” dance, and dancers rehearsed for about six weeks before Thursday’s show.
“It is really good coming together as a community to do something really special in the downtown, and it is truly about building community,” Krauss said. “It is a unique Wadsworth event; no one else around here does this.”