Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A Marathon Dance like no other!

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

It was one day, not an overnight. It was at The Great Escape, not South Glens Falls High School. Instead of last year’s 700 dancers to begin, this one had just under 500. The public was excluded from attending due to Covid protocols.

But in the ways that mattered, it was the same Marathon Dance that it has been for all of its 44 years — South High students coming together — with massive community support — for the purest of reasons, to raise money to help local people and organizations the kids select.

As always, they were there, too, to have a great time in the process of doing good. They danced, but at The Great Escape they rode Go Karts, roller coasters and more thrill rides.

The Dance concluded in its age-old way — ceremonies recognizing spirit leaders and top fund-raisers, thank you’s to people in the school and community who help the dance succeed.

Then recipients spoke — more briefly than usual, given Friday night’s bitter cold — but with inherent emotional wallop.

Finally came announcement of the amount raised: $506,013.21, astounding given all the limits this year’s dance had to work under. Another triumph.

$506,013.31 fund-raising total!
An especially astounding total given all the challenges they surmounted. Here’s the student committee, front, Elisabeth Hutter, Rosa Lee Ray, Rachael Basile, Maddison Walter, Jenna Farrell and Aidan Taylor. Back Row: Myles Hogan, Joey Johnson, Jack Van Wie. plus, at the front, adult advisors Tom Myott, Jody Sheldon & Dan Albert. Sadly, committee member Aydan Cook was ill.

Scenes from the 44th South High Marathon Dance at the Great Escape

It looked for the longest time that there would be no South High Marathon Dance in 2021, given the Covid limitations. Then the perfect outdoor location was found: The Great Escape, which volunteered its entire park at no charge. The dance was unique, triumphant, unforgettable.

South High Marathon Dance photos by Gus Carayiannis

Spirit Award winners — From left, sophomore Tessa Hogan, senior girl Isabella Diel, senior boy Cam Woodard, winner of the Dick ‘Papa’ Stewart Spirit Award Rosa Lee Ray, freshman Kaitlin Valla and junior Heather Hayes.
Hearing directly from the recipients is a Marathon Dance essential — Finn Herringshaw of Fort Ann (front right) has Acute Lymphocitic Leukemia. Miranda, his mom, told the Dancers what the help means to their whole family.

The Lake George Drumline opens the Marathon Dance — another tradition. This was their first appearance anywhere this year.
Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe
South High seniors and Marathon Dance participants, from left, Elonne Pisacane, Emily Shufelt and Qwin Pisacane. Elonne and Qwin are twins, both planning to attend Lafayette College in Pennsylvania next fall. Emily will start her college career at SUNY Adirondack.

Opening the ‘Spirit Coins’
‘Community • Commitment • Compassion • Pride’ reads the one-time-only surprise coin presented to all dancers and participants at the Dance’s close. Noting how hard it was to make this year’s Marathon happen, the coin is a remembrance of their “proof of dedication and support of the mission of SHMD and personal sacrifice.”
Superintendent Kris Orr riding Flashback & walking back down the stairs
“A little known fact: Ms. Orr really likes rides,” she told the Marathon Dancers Friday night. Ms. Orr (in the red tie-dyed shirt, said she realized riding Flashback (which used to be the Boomerang), “I’m upside down and I’m the happiest that I’ve been in months.” She expressed her gratitude and pride in the students. “You do the right thing all the time,” she said.
Rebecca Close, president of The Great Escape:
Ms. Close, speaking during Friday night’s closing ceremonies said that when SHMD co-advisor Dan Albert called her to ask if The Great Escape would consider hosting this year’s Marathon Dance, it took her “a millisecond” to say yes. She said joining in community projects “is a huge piece of who we are,” but the South High Marathon Dance is exceptional. “To see it in real life,” she said, was a joy. “We cannot thank you enough for letting us go on your ride.”
There are “silver linings of Covid,” Ms. Close remarked — and that the park’s chance to host the 2021 Marathon Dance was one such silver lining.

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