SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It was announced Monday that the 44th Annual South High Marathon Dance will take place at The Great Escape this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past 43 years, the dance has been held in the South Glens Falls High School gym.

“The South High Marathon Dance is thrilled to partner with Six Flags Great Escape for SHMD 2021. They are an amazing organization and have been more than accommodating to work with. They will assist us in continuing our mission to help community members in need, ” said South High Marathon Dance Co-Advisor Tom Myott.

The annual event helps raise money for individuals, families, and charitable organizations locally who are facing financial hardship or emotional distress as a result of major, life-changing events. Six Flags Great Escape has supported the SHMD through donations of funds as well as resources. Three years ago The Great Escape reportedly loaned thousands of dollars in metal detectors for the event as security was increased to keep everyone in attendance safe.

Dance organizers reportedly discussed several different options when it came to how to host the dance during the pandemic. In January, a ThoughtExchange was held to receive input and ideas from staff, students, and community members. After narrowing down the options, organizers chose The Great Escape due to it being a large outdoor environment with existing structures already in place coupled with NYS’s announcement of the reopening of amusement parks.

Typically the event goes for 28-hours, however due to the pandemic, the 44th annual event will be shortened, beginning Friday morning April 30, and will end later that day. The decision to shorten the event comes as organizers say it will reduce participant and staff fatigue leading to weakened immune systems. The event will reportedly take place under four main pavilions with catering in the North Woods Picnic Grove. SHMD will also have exclusive use of The Great Escape and will not be open to the public.

“We are thrilled that our students will be able to participate in SHMD this year, in partnership with The Great Escape. As you know, safety has been a key aspect of every decision we’ve made as a district this year, and it has also been a priority with Marathon. This is an important, community-building event and we’re excited it will be happening! We can’t wait,” said South Glens Falls Central School District Superintendent Kristine Orr.

In addition to a change in venue, this year’s SHMD will be broadcasted live in order for more people to enjoy the event who are not in physical attendance at The Great Escape.

Organizers say the SHMD continues to work with the South Glens Falls School District, The Great Escape, Warren County, as well as others in order to meet or exceed the current public health requirements. The Great Escape provides flexibility when it comes to social distancing offering a larger more open area for attendees to enjoy the event while still staying safe.

Event organizers say all event attendees will have to receive a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before the event. Additional measures that are being taken include:

  • Social distancing
  • Mask-wearing
  • All personal protective equipment and precautions as taken during a regular school day
  • COVID-19 screening of anyone entering park property

“We are ecstatic that this iconic event that has provided so much for so many people can go forward this year. We have reviewed the event plans to abide by current New York State gathering guidelines and found them to be well thought out and in the interest of health and safety of all involved,” said Warren County Director of Public Health Ginelle Jones.

Organizers say plans are subject to change based on future state and local public health guidance and requirements.

Six Flags Great Escape Resort President Rebecca Wood said, “We are incredibly proud to come together for this amazing cause and provide our park as the location for a safe, memorable and fun marathon dance experience this year,” said Six Flags Great Escape Resort President Rebecca Wood. “This is a staple event for our community and our team could not be more excited to support the Bulldog family as they work hard to make a difference despite the challenges this pandemic has presented. We are honored to kick off the 2021 season at The Great Escape by partnering with SHMD.”

You can visit the Marathon Dance’s website, follow them on Facebook, Twitter @shmdnow, or Instagram @shmdnow for more information.