Lexington's finest zombies will parade through downtown Friday night, re-enacting Michael Jackson's iconic 1982 Thriller video. Although it carries on a Halloween tradition started in 2002, this will be the first time that the parade has been staged since Jackson's death in June. (There was a special event July 3 as a salute to Jackson after his death, but there was no parade.)
The organizers at Mecca Live Studio and the Lexington Division of Parks and Recreation said they are trying to make this year's version exciting and fresh.
The ghoulish characters will begin their march at 8 p.m. Friday at Main Street and Elm Tree Lane and limp, crawl or drag their bodies to the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza, at Main Street and Limestone.
Besides the zombie parade, there will be a half-hour performance at Courthouse Plaza, a rolling Michael Jackson altar (complete with stations for those who want to add to it), a zombie marching band, a longer performance route (making it unnecessary for the audience to try to follow the show) and what leader Teresa Tomb of Mecca calls a "killer" after-party at Third Street Stuff and Coffee.
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Another difference is that two men will play Jackson this year. Micah Isaacs, who has played the lead role every time since 2002 except one, now lives in Canada and won't be able to return to Lexington for the re-enactment.
Stepping into Jackson's shoes will be Alex Sanders, a freshman at UK who will dance the part of Jackson during the street parade, and Albert Ignacio, a longtime Jackson fan who will take over the role during the half-hour showcase at the courthouse.
A dancer of five years, Sanders, who moved to Lexington from Los Angeles, says he has always been a Jackson fan. He said his mother encouraged him to try out for the Jackson part.
Ignacio — a Lexingtonian since 1985, when he came here for college — has been a Thriller fan since high school. He says he has adopted Jackson's idiosyncrasies simply by watching him over the years.
Although the Thriller performance is primarily a Halloween event, Tomb says, it also is a "community event outside of the Michael Jackson theme because anyone can be a part of it."
People of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles can participate in this event, she says. At a rehearsal last week, there were children, mothers, fathers, siblings and friends.
It has become such a popular and indelible Halloween tradition in Lexington that the Thriller re-enactment doesn't seem likely to end any time soon.
"I don't think we're allowed to stop," Tomb said.