Lifestyle & Belief

Boca Raton bans "Thriller" performance in residential neighborhood


Fans of the late Michael Jackson perform his song 'Thriller' on the Palace square in central St. Petersburg, Russia, on October 23, 2010. Officials are stopping a similar performance in a residential neighborhood in Boca Raton, Fla.



Boca Raton, Fla., officials have told resident Rick Newman that the gory Halloween display in his front yard is fine, but he is not allowed to let neighborhood children perform Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance in his driveway.

Newman’s front yard is not for the squeamish. Each year, the robotics buff fills it with several thousands of dollars worth of scary lights, music and anamatronics for Halloween, the Sun-Sentinel reports. This year the display includes a bloody fountain, robotic monsters and a collection of skulls impaled on stakes.

Newman asks visitors who come to see his over-the-top Halloween decorations to make donations to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation. This year, he decided to also schedule two performances of “Thriller” in his driveway to increase the donations. About 30 dancers from the local Jewel’s Dance Studio, ages 7 to 18, volunteered to perform, studio owner Julie Coursey told the Sun-Sentinel.

However, city officials have said the dancing and the promotional emails Newman sent out qualify the activity as commercial, which is not allowed in his residential neighborhood, UPI reports. "Fundamentally, what he's doing is not customarily associated with residential use," Deputy City Manager George Brown said, according to UPI. "Performing live dance shows on the property and inviting people into the neighborhood via advertising qualify it as commercial activity."

The city will fine Newman up to $1,000 if he goes ahead with the show, Brown said.

Newman has asked city officials to reconsider. "This isn't commercial,” he told UPI. “A yard sale would be more commercial than this. I don't make a penny off of it. In fact, it costs me a lot every year. All the money we get goes to sick and dying kids."

Coursey told the Sun-Sentinel that her dancers “will be devastated if they can't perform, because of all the work they've put in. We've been trying to do a lot more out in the community, because it teaches them about how important it is to give back."