SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Thursday was not the date of the South High Marathon Dance, and Harrison Avenue Elementary School was not the place where it will soon be held. But all the same, the music blasted, and the front lot was full of smiling faces and dancing feet.

Grade by grade, students at the elementary school came out for a miniature marathon dance on Thursday outside the school. They were greeted by upbeat tunes, an inflated bouncy-house slide, and a group of teachers determined to pass on the importance of the annual South High Marathon Dance to South Glens Falls kids, as early as 1st grade.

“We’re teaching our students about marathon,” said Principal Carla Biviano, taking a break from guiding dancers in for their turn going down the slide inflated in the parking lot. “They’re dancing to give people hope, and trying to help people who are less fortunate. They need to understand they’ve got to work toward something that’s larger than just themselves.”

That “something larger” is the South High Marathon Dance’s annual goal. High school students make an annual tradition of holding a day-long dance to raise money for people and organizations fighting cancer, and other physical and mental illnesses and disabilities. This year’s dance is set for Friday, May 13, and will be held for a second year at Six Flags Great Escape.

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2nd grade students dance outside Harrison Avenue Elementary School as part of the school’s “mini marathon dance,” held in advance of next weekend’s South High Marathon Dance, in South Glens Falls, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, that dance was annually held inside the gymnasium at South Glens Falls High School, where the entire high school class of the large district would dance for as much as 26 hours, as part of a year-round campaign to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. In those days, students from 5th grade up had time blocks where they would come and join in on the fun. Though the dance has moved, and is closed to the public again this year, students from 5th grade on up still get their time to come and take part.

Thursday’s sun was a welcome sight. Foul weather shot down the original plan for the mini-marathon dance, which had been set for Wednesday evening. Food trucks and families were set to attend, but rain made the school’s rear quad impossible to walk, drive or dance on. Thursday’s plan was originally set to be held inside the Harrison Avenue gymnasium, but one last snag turned into an opportunity.

“We decorated the gym, got that all ready, and our bouncy-house did not fit this morning. So, in the true spirit of Marathon, we kept on going,” Biviano said.

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A Harrison Avenue Elementary School 3rd-grader dabs and slides down a bouncy-house slide in front of the school for a miniature marathon dance held in advance of the South High Marathon Dance in South Glens Falls, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

As third- and second-graders took their turns outside the school, it was clear that the dance’s importance wasn’t lost on the kids who are still a couple years away from joining their older fellows, be it at the high school or the Six Flags park. The need is as great as ever – with last year’s dance raising over $506K, and this year’s set to support another 28 beneficiaries – and the spirit is as strong as it ever has been.

“We’ve had to keep changing it up because we’ve had to adapt to things going on,” Biviano said. “It’s all working out. We never quit.”

The South High Marathon Dance will be streamed live on Facebook as it happens next Friday, May 13, in order to continue mitigating COVID-19 social distancing concerns. A public preview day is being held at South Glens Falls High School this Saturday, May 7. On the day of the dance, the Glens Falls Shirt Factory will host a special food truck event to raise more funds for the families and organizations whose futures are changed by the school community.