Kevin Bacon visits Payson High School after student-led campaign

Apr 20, 2024, 4:00 PM | Updated: 10:09 pm

Kevin Bacon at Payson High School....

Kevin Bacon speaks to the crowd at Payson High School at the Bacon to Payson event. (Amie Schaeffer, KSL News Radio)

(Amie Schaeffer, KSL News Radio)

PAYSON, Utah —  Kevin Bacon returned to Payson High School Saturday, thanks to the Bacon to Payson campaign launched by the students. 

The film has become a long-lasting symbol of Payson, and the community welcomed Bacon with cheers. 

The event marks 40 years since the movie “Footloose” was filmed at the high school which is slated to be torn down next spring. 

Kit-building service project

The actor came with his non-profit and a mission — helping people in need. The organization teamed with students to make 5,000 “essential resource kits” to be distributed to communities throughout the country. These kits are part of a broader goal of distributing 40,000 kits over the year.

“The students got in touch with us during their Bacon to Payson campaign and said ‘We want to be a part of what you all are doing. Let’s build 5,000 kits together,'” said Brigid Zuknick, director of programs and development at 

“So, our students are our lead volunteers. They’ve been out here hauling boxes, counting inventory, setting up tables. They’ve been incredible partners and we’re really fortunate to work alongside them today.”

Enter Kevin Bacon

Just before 10 a.m. the “Footloose” song started playing and the crowd erupted. The actor, who played the lead Ren McCormack took to the stage.

“Wow, look at this place, look at these people. Go Lions!” said Bacon. 

“When I first heard about this Bacon to Payson thing I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy!’ But you were all just, tireless, unrelenting in your desire to have me return, and you talked me into it. I think it’s great to see that kind of commitment to anything.”

Bacon went on to talk about how the film still connects people.

“I also think that it’s amazing, the power that this movie has had. To, just kind of bring people together and connect on the basic ideas that are behind the movie… [We] have shown here, by turning what could be just you know a movie star coming back to get a pat on the back, into something really positive and that’s what we’re going to do today when we build these kits.”

Kevin Bacon builds kits with Payson High students. (Esme Sanchez Estevez, KSL NewsRadio)

Saying goodbye

Saturday’s event was a long time in the making. 

“It’s been about a year and a half, two years in the works,” said Senior Class President, Nick Dansie. “But that idea is finally coming alive now that it’s the 40th anniversary. So, it’s pretty cool.”

Senior Class Representative, Emily Faux said the event is bitter-sweet.  

“I’m going to miss seeing the school and like, being able to go through the halls and know that like, Kevin Bacon went through it, ” she said. “I’m excited for the future, but we’re excited to have this great goodbye.”


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Kevin Bacon visits Payson High School after student-led campaign