LEXINGTON, Ky. — It’s an annual holiday tradition and a local must-do event during spooky season, all set to the sounds of the King of Pop’s “Thriller.”

What You Need To Know

  • Hundreds of zombies are training for the annual Lexington Thriller parade

  • Halloween fans of all ages gather to learn the dance from Michael Jackson's iconic tune

  • Teresa Tomb teaches the dance steps, bringing hundreds of undead dancers to life

  • The 2021 Lexington Thriller and Halloween Parade runs Oct. 24 from 4-9 p.m.

The Lexington Thriller Parade lets hundreds of performers transform themselves into zombies and dance their way down Main Street to the classic Michael Jackson tune.

Thriller "zombies" practice their moves ahead of the Lexington Thriller Parade. (Steve France)

But don’t fear these walking “dead” – it’s all a family-friendly endeavor.

“Nobody gets truly scary, especially with kids, nobody's political, commercial, anything other than just the community getting together to have fun and to delight kids and ourselves,” said Brian Engle, a Lexington Thriller zombie.

Thriller zombies like Engle and Robin Bush said it’s nice to get into the Halloween spirit and “be somebody else.”

“With all the people kind of backing you up, doing the same thing, it makes it feel much less nerve racking,” Bush said. “It's nice to know that I can help people to learn it. It, since I apparently am really good at it, it's nice to be able to help people learn it.”

Halloween enthusiasts of all ages gather under the moonlight at the MoonDance Amphitheater to learn how they will dance, dawdle and drag their way throughout downtown Lexington.

Teresa Tomb is the mastermind behind these deadly dance moves. (Steve France)

Teresa Tomb is an instructor with Mecca Dance Studios, and it’s her job at rehearsal to teach the dance steps and bring these dancers to life, together to one beat. 

“Zombies aren't known to be accomplished dancers, so anyone, any zombie can pull off the dance. It's just fun,” Tomb said. “It's something [where] everybody gets a chance to be creative and be part of their town's community.”

The first year saw around 50 zombies and one Michael, and Tomb said it’s grown more and more each year.

“I know in some of the really peak, larger years we've had over a thousand zombies,” she said. “It's fun.”

Lexington Parks & Recreation and WRFL radio also play key roles in bringing this event together. Each of the dancers, once transformed into zombies, will need to follow the lead of Michael Jackson, played at this practice by both Alex Livingood and Cameron Jones-Commodore.

Cameron Jones-Commodore is a Lexington Thriller veteran. (Steve France)

“I love it. I've always loved it. I love that people care enough to come and learn and try something new, and come out of their comfort zone,” Livingood said. “I love that all types of people come out for a common cause.”

This year marks Jones-Commodore’s ninth Lexington Thriller. 

“In years past, we've had 1,400 zombie participants,” he said. “I try not to think so much about the numbers. It is exciting of course, but really, I get as much from them as I think they get from watching me, they inspire me.”

Lexington’s Thriller has been named a Top 10 Halloween Destination by USA Today and was featured in the Top 25 Best Halloween Festivals Across the U.S. by Oprah Magazine.  

“Hopefully, this will be a tradition that brings lots of people to downtown Lexington, for lots of good, clean fun for years and years,” said Thriller zombie Dan Nehring.

The 2021 Lexington Thriller and Halloween Parade runs Oct. 24 from 4-9 p.m. ET.