SOUTH GLENS FALLS -- The South High Marathon Dance raised more than $489,000 last year for local people in need.
Students are hoping to surpass that amount during this year’s dance in March, proceeds from which will benefit a combination of 39 groups, individuals and families.
The Marathon Dance began in 1978 when it had 50 dancers and raised $1,500.
Over the years, the dance became a community event and gained national exposure when a live feed was seen on CNN’s website in 2011.
The event has raised more than $3.64 million for 283 beneficiaries over its history.
The 37th annual dance, which will have a circus theme, is set to begin with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. March 7 and continue into March 8 at the South Glens Falls Senior High School.
The event is open to the public from 7 to 10:30 p.m. March 7 and anytime after 6:30 a.m. March 8.
According to a news release from the organizing committee, about 80 percent of the school’s population attends the event. In 2013, 767 students registered to dance.
A total of 815 students have registered for this year’s dance.
Beneficiaries are chosen by the student committee, which this year includes Josh Deyo, Pat Fish, Nick Hutchins, Devon Sweenor, Bethany Warren and Katie Washburn.
Each student is required to raise a minimum of $150 to participate in the dance.
Area residents and businesses can help by donating items for silent and live auctions during the dance. The silent auction begins March 7 and ends during the early evening hours of March 8.
Several events at area businesses leading up to the dance help provide a pre-event fundraising boost by, for example, donating a percentage of sales on a specific day to the dance. The first of those events is the Saturday Adirondack Phantoms game at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Most of the money is raised at the event, where Marathon Dance apparel is sold. The event also includes massages, hair wraps, face painting, a 50/50 raffle and other attractions.
Barber Kip Dare of Kipper’s Clippers in South Glens Falls is organizing the annual cut-a-thon, which he’s done for 19 years. Joining him in the gymnasium will be local barbers and stylists Joe Ose, Amy Lapoint, Diane Bean and Karen Clark. Proceeds from the haircuts are donated to the dance.
Dare said the cut-a-thon was started in the 1980s by Harry Betar and Elaine Jones. Last year, it raised $3,000.
“When Harry Betar gave me the keys to take over the business, that’s all he asked of me, was to make amends with my principal from 1981 and cut hair at the Marathon Dance,” said Dare, who was in ninth grade during the first Marathon Dance.