Thrill St. Pete flash mob group gets down and dirty for a good cause

Thrill St. Pete teaches choreography to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and organizes flash mobs at events throughout the greater St. Petersburg area. All money raised by the organization benefits a different nonprofit each year. This year, funds will go to the Mr. Strong Foundation.

ST. PETERSBURG — When Kira Stone first moved to Pinellas Park seven years ago, she was excited to discover a St. Petersburg-based zombie flash mob group that dances to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Thrill St. Pete was just what the newcomer and her two children needed. After all, she has a background in dance and was looking to make friends in the area.

“We really didn’t know anybody here. I thought it would be a fun way to try to make friends and meet people,” she said. “And I just loved the idea of it — dancing as a flash mob while being scary and gross is really cool.”

Each year, in September and October, Thrill St. Pete offers free classes teaching the choreography to “Thriller.” There are also numerous tutorials on how to properly apply zombie makeup and act like the undead.

There are several remaining workshops this month, including Saturdays, Oct. 19 and 26, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., at the Bardmoor YMCA in Largo, and Mondays, Oct. 21 and 28, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island. Additional rehearsals have also taken place at Radius St. Pete this season.

Stone, now one of the group’s core organizers, teaches the weekly workshops at Bardmoor YMCA.

“We really break the dance down for you,” she said. “We make it easy to learn and it’s fun. Anybody can do it; we have people of all ages and abilities join us. We have students as young as 6 years old and others as old as 70.”

She encourages those attending the workshops to practice what they learn at home, though.

“We’re teaching you a six-minute dance in two hours,” Stone said. “We make it easy to learn, but you’re not going to have it memorized. You really need to practice at home.”

In addition to workshops, Thrill St. Pete organizes numerous “Thriller” flash mobs throughout the year, many of them during the fall.

One of the group’s big events is the MFA Zombie Thriller Dance, now in its second year, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

Other upcoming appearances include:

• The 15th annual Haunted Hike, a one-mile hike through “St. Petersburg’s most paranormal neighborhood” that features costumed storytellers, Saturday, Oct. 19, 5:30 p.m. in the Euclid St. Paul’s neighborhood beginning at 1300 13th St. N, St. Petersburg;

• The Halloween Spooktacular at ARTpool Gallery in St. Petersburg, Saturday, Oct. 26, 8 to 11 p.m.;

• Day of the Dead Block Party at Dog Bar in St. Petersburg, Saturday, Nov. 2, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.;

• LocalShops1’s Shopapalooza Festival at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, Saturday, Nov. 30 and Sunday, Dec. 1, 3 p.m.

Thrill St. Pete is available to perform at events, both private and public, for a donation, Stone said.

The group will also host a Drag Queen Bingo Fundraiser on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m., at Punky’s Bar and Grill in St. Petersburg.

Each year, all funds raised benefit a different Tampa Bay area nonprofit. This year’s events will support the Mr. Strong Foundation, which provides funding to families with special needs children for therapy services.

“What we do is a lot of fun, and we’re dancing for charity, which makes it even better,” Stone said.

For a complete list of flash mob events and information on upcoming workshops, visit facebook.com/thrillstpete.