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Thrill the World’ Moves to Sunken Gardens

Annual Michael Jackson-Themed Fundraiser Displaced by Occupy Santa Barbara


The annual Thrill the World fundraiser — in which 200 Santa Barbarans will participate in the timeless zombie dance routine from Michael Jackson’s 1983 “Thriller” video simultaneously with dancers across the world — has been moved from De la Guerra Plaza to the Sunken Gardens at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. The event takes place on October 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. and raises money for the Mayan town of San Martin Chiquito in Guatemala.

Janet Reineck, the event’s organizer, decided to move the dance so as not to compete with the Occupy Santa Barbara protesters who set up tents on the plaza and have gathered there daily since October 4. Reineck asked some of the protesters individually if they would mind ceding the space to her for the evening. Initially they expressed willingness, but after they took up the issue at their General Assembly meeting, Reineck says she received an email indicating that the protesters would like to use the fundraiser to promote their own cause. Reineck would like her event to remain a separate entity.

“We just want to dance,” said Reineck. “The most important thing is that everybody has a good time.”

Because Thrill the World is open to the public, Nancy Rapp, Parks and Recreation director, said that the city could not forcibly remove the protestors unless they are engaging in illegal activity. The city is refunding Thrill the World’s permit fees. “It’s just one of those awkward situations,” said Rapp.

It is not yet clear if the new venue will be more expensive than De la Guerra Plaza, which would have cost between $700 and $800 total for the permit and stanchion rental.

“Fifty bucks on porta-potties is 50 bucks that could send a kid to school,” said Reineck.



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