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Kevin Bacon visits 'Footloose' school before it's torn down — and in time for prom

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

This year is the 40th anniversary of the hit film "Footloose." You may remember Kevin Bacon as a high school student who gets a conservative town to loosen up and ditch its ban on dancing. The school in Utah where it was filmed is about to be torn down, and students there have been working hard to get Bacon to come and visit. And this weekend, he did, just in time for their prom. Ciara Hulet with member station KUER in Salt Lake City was there.

CIARA HULET, BYLINE: Scenes from the hit '80s film took place right here. Principal Jesse Sorenson says his son actually discovered Ren McCormack's locker during a summer cleaning job.

JESSE SORENSON: And there was a little sticker in there that was all faded that said, congratulations, you have Kevin Bacon's locker from the film "Footloose," 1984.

HULET: What? (Laughter).

SORENSON: Yeah. And this is the locker.

HULET: What?

(SOUNDBITE OF KEYS JANGLING)

HULET: It's filled with movie pictures and quotes and a pair of cowboy boots.

SORENSON: And then there's a Bible here with the scripture about the time to weep, the time to laugh, the time to mourn and the time to dance.

(SOUNDBITE OF LOCKER CLOSING)

HULET: Payson High students and faculty have been working for a couple of years to bring Bacon back for one last dance. Student Body President Rubie Raff.

RUBIE RAFF: This whole school year, all of our events have been aimed towards "Footloose." We did a "Footloose" - a school musical, a "Footloose" movie stadium night, Mr. Bacon contest.

HULET: The school finally convinced him to come.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Kevin Bacon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HULET: Kevin Bacon does a little jig as he walks on to the Payson High School football field. He says, at first, he thought the idea of coming back was crazy.

KEVIN BACON: But you were all just tireless, unrelenting (laughter).

HULET: He says Payson has shown some of the ideas behind "Footloose," like standing up to authority, freedom of expression and having compassion for other people.

BACON: I also think that it's amazing the power that this movie has had to just kind of bring people together.

HULET: Bacon agreed to come after the school promised to help out his charitable foundation, Sixdegrees.org. It gives away resource kits for people in need. And on the day of his visit, students and people in Payson lined up across the school's football field, putting together 5,000 kits.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Mr. Bacon, are you counting?

BACON: I'm counting.

HULET: They're bagging things like hygiene items, food, a journal and vouchers for free therapy through BetterHelp. Utah nonprofit Encircle is one that will be giving out the kits. CEO Jordan Sgro says a lot of the LGBTQ youth they serve experience homelessness and food insecurity.

JORDAN SGRO: Encircle's getting over a thousand kits to distribute, which is just incredibly powerful.

HULET: She also says the attention from someone like Kevin Bacon is a reminder to these youth that they're loved and important.

SGRO: That just does a lot internally for an LGBTQ youth that's really struggling with their identity or with their journey.

HULET: Student Council Adviser Jenny Staheli says the project to bring back Bacon has also done a lot for Payson. It brought them together, especially in a time when unity feels hard to find.

Do you think this is something that was particularly needed this year?

JENNY STAHELI: I really do. And I think it's really because this is such a feel-good idea that we can all get behind and we can all agree that good things need to happen in the world, and unexpected kindnesses are worth it.

HULET: Mayor Bill Wright hopes that even after Kevin Bacon's visit, the community will continue to work together.

BILL WRIGHT: You have a dream, make that dream come to fruition. And you only do that by working together.

HULET: But Bacon didn't leave without busting one last move.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF KENNY LOGGINS SONG, "FOOTLOOSE")

HULET: For NPR News in Payson, Utah, I'm Ciara Hulet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ciara Hulet
[Copyright 2024 KUER 90.1]