Payson High School Students bring ‘Footloose’ actor Kevin Bacon to Payson for last prom 

On March 22, after several years in the making, Payson High School students got the news they had been hoping for: Kevin Bacon would be coming to Prom (sort of, but we will get to that news a little later).

For those who need a little background knowledge, actor Kevin Bacon was in the smash 1984 hit movie, “Footloose” that was filmed partly in the city of Payson, with many of the scenes happening in the very hallways that PHS students walk today. Those hallways will be demolished very shortly, making way for the new school in the spring of 2025. With the final prom that will take place at PHS aligning with the 40th anniversary of the film, students began a campaign called “BacontoPayson” in an effort to bring the famed actor “home.”

The news of the efforts of students, faculty and community did not go unnoticed, and Kevin Bacon responded live on the Today Show, saying, “Thank you, thank you. I’ve gotta come. I’m gonna come.” That announcement sent screams across the gym where 600 students gathered as early as 4 a.m. Payson High School principal Jesse Sorenson expressed his excitement for the announcement, adding that the response has been “overwhelming.”

 “The media attention has been unreal,” Sorenson said. “We got a report from the film commission’s PR department and they said that the potential media reach was 2.6 billion internationally. It was a huge media story on that day, so that’s been fun, but with that has come a lot of things we hadn’t really thought of. We’ve had people reaching out and wanting to sponsor different aspects of it. We’ve had people wanting to attend the prom as well, and that kind of complicated things, but I think we’ve got it under control now.”

Kevin Bacon isn’t coming to ‘prom’

Sorenson explained something that wasn’t clearly communicated in the news on the day the stories aired. 

“Kevin’s not actually coming to prom; he’s coming to our school the day of prom and he’s going to do a humanitarian project with us that day and do a tour of the school and do a meet and greet with our student council,” Sorensen explained.

Sorensen further explained that the actor will be working with students the day of prom to put together 5,000 humanitarian kits for his foundation SixDegrees. He said that he is proud of the student body for all that they have done to make their last year at the original Payson High School memorable.

“It’s the kids who brought him here and it’s been fun to see the community come together,” Sorenson said. “Three years ago, the student council started talking about it with the sophomore class because they knew that the stars were going to align for the 40th anniversary to be on the same year as one of our last years at the school. Then the Utah Film Commission caught wind of what our students were doing, they said, ‘well, that aligns with our 100th year anniversary.’ So they jumped in as well and have been actually a great partner and we formed a really great relationship with them. They’ve helped our students kind of navigate working with the media and Kevin’s people, and so all three of those things came together to make it a really fun project.”

Sorenson, who was 7-years-old at the time “Footloose” was filmed, and who is also a fourth-generation Payson High School graduate, said that he is excited to be part of history (again).

“I’m a fourth generation Payson High grad, and my kids are fifth generation grads,” he said. “I remember the summer ‘Footloose’ was filmed, and it was a big deal then, but it obviously became much bigger than I think anyone in town really anticipated it to be.”

At the assembly that was held on March 22, Sorenson made sure to let his students know that they were now also making history. 

“I was telling the students on the morning the Today Show came, that it was a historic moment when ‘Footloose’ came, but this is a historic moment, too,” he said. “I told them that they get to be a part of this moment.”

The final prom that is scheduled for April 20, will have a “Footloose” theme, and  will, of course, be decorated like an 80s prom. 

Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown is a mom of nine who writes columns for many local and national publications. She currently resides in Payson, and enjoys looking for good happenings in her area and sharing them for others to read about. For more of her stories, search "A Mother's Write" on Facebook.

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