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The Thrill is Back for Zombies at the Sunken Garden

Hundreds of zombies will rise from the lawn of the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens to perform Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller dance as part of the annual global event “Thrill the World” at 3 p.m. Oct. 29. The festivities will include a free dance party from 1-4 p.m.

Hosting the Santa Barbara event for the sixth year, World Dance for Humanity invites zombies of all ages and abilities to learn the Thriller dance and perform at the Sunken Gardens, as well as at flash mobs around town leading up to Halloween.

To learn more, visit:

World Dance for Humanity is a local nonprofit that offers a chance for women to get in shape and inspired while helping others. World Dance offers five classes a week, with every penny from class proceeds and donations going to its projects in Rwanda.

In Rwanda, World Dance is helping 7,705 people left destitute and divided by the genocide. World Dance gives assistance through donations of livestock, school stipends, training, and support for small businesses. In July, 11 World Dancers traveled to Rwanda and returned more passionate than ever about the potential for Santa Barbarans to make a difference in the world.

Locally, World Dancers reach out to wheelchair-bound seniors and other disabled adults, making deep connections through music and movement. Members of the World Dance community also volunteer at the Westside Boys and Girls Club, helping with the afterschool program that serves 100 children a day.

Peter Haslund, World Dance board president emeritus said: "There are many humanitarian aid efforts that deserve help from our global village. World Dance for Humanity has made the choice to provide assistance to Rwanda, a region characterized by genocide, and to do this at the lowest possible cost.

"I don't know of any other philanthropic endeavor that more directly affects the lives of desperate people more effectively or more immediately than WD4H," he said.

"The driving force is the ability to provide a sense of hope where none existed, a sense of encouragement where only conflict prevailed, a sense of security in place of chaos, and a sense of a positive future for all, regardless of tribal affiliation," Haslund said.

Janet Reineck, World Dance founder and executive director, has worked in humanitarian aid and fundraising for 20 years, leading rural development projects for Oxfam and International Rescue Committee in Kosovo, and serving with Direct Relief International and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.

In 2010, Reineck, who holds a masters in dance ethnology from UCLA and a Ph.D in anthropology from UC Berkeley, set out to combine her areas of expertise and started a dance class in Santa Barbara that offers participants a chance to connect with other cultures while helping people in need.

For more information, visit

— Janet Reineck for World Dance for Humanity.


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