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Bacon in Payson: ‘Footloose’ actor makes momentous return, assists in service project

By Curtis Booker - | Apr 20, 2024
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Actor Kevin Bacon speaks to a crowd of students, volunteers and community members at Payson High School's "Kits for Kevin" community event Saturday, April 20, 2024. Bacon famously appeared in the 1984 movie "Footloose," filmed at Payson High and around Utah County.
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A sign advertises "Bacon to Payson" T-shirts being sold by Payson High students Saturday, April 20, 2024.
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Actor Kevin Bacon stands between a student and volunteer while packing essential resource kits at Payson High School on Saturday, April 20, 2024.
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Volunteers pack resource kits for actor Kevin Bacon's Six Degrees organization Saturday, April 20, 2024. The packaged items will go to youth and families in Utah and nearby states.
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A director's chair intended for actor Kevin Bacon is pictured as he delivers a speech to students, volunteers, and community members ahead of a community kit-building event Saturday, April 20, 2024.
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Actor Kevin Bacon takes a photo on stage in front of a crowd at Payson High School on Saturday, April 20, 2024.
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Payson High School student council members wait on stage in front of a crowd of volunteers as a community kit-building event began Saturday, April 20, 2024.
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Actor Kevin Bacon speaks during his return to Payson High School, where parts of the movie "Footloose" was filmed, on Saturday, April 20, 2024. Bacon thanked the crowd for their support and commitment to community service.

The hit song “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins played through the speakers on the field at Payson High School on Saturday as actor Kevin Bacon took to a podium and spoke to a crowd filled with students, volunteers and community members on Saturday morning.

It’s been 40 years since Bacon last was at the school, where some of the most iconic scenes in the 1984 movie “Footloose” were filmed.

“Go, Lions,” Bacon proclaimed on the microphone followed by a sea of cheers.

The actor admired students’ persistence in promoting #BacontoPayson, the three words that spiraled in a viral campaign capturing local and national attention.

In early 2023, students and faculty members begin using the power social media in hopes of persuading actor to come to prom this year — the second to last before the high school is torn down.

Fast forward to last month when students got the news on national television from Bacon himself that he would make an appearance.

“I think it’s great to see that kind of commitment to anything,” Bacon said Saturday. “I also think that it’s amazing the power that this movie had to bring people together and connect.”

While Bacon didn’t have plans to attend prom Saturday night, he agreed to show up during for the school’s charity event, a community kit-building program called BKxKB held in conjunction with the actor’s Six Degrees organization.

The national nonprofit set a yearlong goal to build and distribute 40,000 essential resource kits this year. At Saturday’s “Kits with Kevin” event at Payson High, hundreds of volunteers were tasked with packing 5,000 of those kits.

‘The contents of the kits include things like personal hygiene items, fresh socks, a journal and, of course, a handwritten note from somebody right here in the community reminding the recipient that a real person packed them,” the organization’s director of programs and events, Brigid Zuknick, told the Daily Herald.

Local nonprofits including Promise to Live and Encircle Utah partnered with Six Degrees to build kits to support families and youth in Utah and nearby states.

As the community prepares to bid adieu to the nearly 60-year-old building in the coming year, former students didn’t want to miss their opportunity to witness a moment in time they may never see again.

Arlana Steele graduated from Payson High School in 1989. Accompanied by her sister Natalie Peacock, wearing matching “Footloose” sweaters, Steele said she’s sad to see the current school go but knows students need a new campus.

“Cruising Main Street, cutting class and getting in trouble,” Steele said were just of the memories she had from her days at PHS.

Steele and Peacock both were excited to catch a glimpse of Bacon just steps away from them on the football field.

“I think it’s great. It’s great to help the community and all the support. It’s pretty neat to see,” Peacock said regarding the morning’s kit-building event.

Keeping it in the family, Steele’s daughter Tori Kearns also attended Payson High and graduated in 2012.

“Im sad, I’m going to miss it,” Kearns told the Daily Herald about the school being torn down after next school year.

Getting Bacon back to Payson High not only took the work of determined students, and staff who rallied around them, but also the Utah Film Commission, state and local leaders as well as Payson community members.

Bacon commended the students and volunteers for making Saturday’s festivities about more than just having a movie star come to town, but to make a difference in the community.

“You did something really positive, and that’s what we’re going to do today when we build these kits,” Bacon said. “So thank you for the commitment to giving back to your community and the people that you’re sharing this planet with.”


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