After 40 years, Payson High bringing home Bacon

Apr 19, 2024, 7:00 PM | Updated: 11:09 pm

Michael Bacon and Kevin Bacon (Bacon Brothers Band) during rehearsals for Mother Nature Netwok's Wh...

Michael Bacon and Kevin Bacon (Bacon Brothers Band) during rehearsals for Mother Nature Netwok's White House Correspondents' Jam IV on April 27, 2018 at The Hamilton in Washington, DC. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Mother Nature Network)

(Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Mother Nature Network)

SALT LAKE CITY —  The actor Kevin Bacon will return Saturday to Payson High School for the 40-year anniversary of the 1984 movie “Footloose.”

To mark the 40th anniversary, Bacon will — along with students — create and distribute 40,000 essential resource kits to communities across the U.S. on behalf of his nonprofit

Afterward, students plan to give him a tour of the school and re-introduce him to his old school locker.

KSL NewsRadio spoke with Jenny Staley, a student council adviser, Caleb Dimmick, a student council member and Principal Jesse Sorenson. They all speak about how they persuaded the actor to come back after four decades to Utah.

How it started

Some 44 years ago, the students at the high school in Elmore, Oklahoma, challenged the town’s ban on any public dancing and fought for the right to hold a school prom and dance. The story spread nationwide. Siding with the students, the mayor said a prom is not public dancing. A screenwriter/songwriter read the news — and at that moment, the movie “Footloose” was born. 

Kevin Bacon returns Saturday to Payson High School for the 40th anniversary of the movie Footloose.

Elmore City High School in Oklahoma (screenshot of Google Maps). 

Mission: persuade Bacon to come back

The principal said the students were persistent in gaining Bacon’s attention by leveraging social media and employing their leadership skills.

“I got to the point [where] I wondered if we were harassing him,” Sorenson said.

He said he was a believer from the beginning that Bacon would make his return because of alignment: it’s the 40th anniversary of the film’s release, the last prom before the demolition of Payson High in spring 2025 and the 100th year of the Utah Film Commission.

But the locker of  Ren McCormack  — Bacon’s character in “Footloose” — will be moving to “Payson High 2.0” at the end of the year along with the rest of the student body, the principal said.

“I told the kids, let’s go for it. Let’s go all in . . . but yeah, it’s all about kids dreaming big — just like in the movie,” Sorenson said, adding the students’ parents and grandparents are also excited about Bacon’s Footloose comeback.


Bacon is Payson-bound

In March, Bacon announced he was making a trip back to Payson on the TODAY Show .

“I have been so impressed with everything that’s been going on there with this crazy idea to get me to come back,” he said during the show.

But student adviser Jenny Staley said a select group of students had known since December that Bacon had committed to return for the big 40th.

“We threatened them a little bit — within an inch of their lives. ‘You guys you can’t tell anyone [but] this is this is going to be so great,'” she said. “It was so fantastic the way that they were able to sit on that.”

Student council member Caleb Dimmick said doubt stirred among students and faculty about whether Bacon would make the trip.

“One teacher specifically was like ‘You guys aren’t doing it,’ and I think that motivated us through, and we got it done,” he said

Dimmick said students tried all sorts of way to get the actor to sign on to the event: They made posts on Instagram, sent Tweets and even wrote a letter of invitation to Bacon’s band, The Bacon Brothers. But contacting the actor through his nonprofit charity finally paid off.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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After 40 years, Payson High bringing home Bacon