Despite being beset by massive unemployment and home foreclosures, residents of Grand Rapids, Michigan aren't happy being on the Mainstreet.com list of dying cities.
So they did something about it.
5,000 of them decided to get in the news for something else; they set out to break the world record for largest lip sync ever, to Don McLean's sombre "American Pie." And so they did, as you can see below.
"Nerf battles, pillow fights, sparklers, this has it all. And they don't look all that unhappy to me. Instead, it looks like a pretty nice place to live. People need to care about their future and not just hope someone bails them out. And Grand Rapids, Michigan cares.
For its part, MainStreet.com says "It's a remarkable video that truly shows off the sense of community and pride of Grand Rapids residents and we at MainStreet were genuinely moved by it."
Calling the day's filming “fantastic,” Bliss estimated more than 3,000 were on hand to watch as well as participate in several crowd scenes.
“We got so lucky, and it was so well rehearsed, all the puzzle pieces fell together,” he said afterward. “We created the world largest and longest lip dub video in just four hours.”
Lip Dub Helicopter Fly Over Lip Dub Helicopter Fly Over A helicopter flies over Grand Rapids as crowds wave for the finale of the Grand Rapids lip dub to "American Pie." Watch video
“They took something that was basically impossible and broke it down into manageable pieces to make this work,” Bliss said. “That's how it happened.”
“When Rob and I walked through this scene, I realized he really thought it through,” said Tommy Allen, lifestyle editor for Rapid Growth, who participated in the segment.
The nod to Bliss' downtown Zombie Walks was one of several references to his earlier projects.
Grand Rapids Lip Dub Pearl Bridge Scene Grand Rapids Lip Dub Pearl Bridge Scene Creo Productions records kayakers in the Grand River and Mayor George Heartwell in the making of the Grand Rapids lip dub to "American Pie," by Don McLean. Watch video
“What's fun is people are arriving, and they have no idea what's going on,” said Dunnam, of Grand Rapids, who plays with Calder Street Stampers.
But Joy and Steve Glaze drove in early from Grand Haven to be part of the opening crowd on Lyons Street, starting at Ottawa Avenue.
Some 23 kids from Grand Rapids Gymnastics were having a fun time doing handstands, back springs and back walk overs as part of a parade sequence along Monroe Center, said Linda Van Houten.
“What a tremendous opportunity to be a part of it,” she said. “It's something they'll always remember.”
“I'm not a very good actor,” Steffen said. “But I grew up with this music.”
Before it was done, members of the Forest Hills Central football team and marching band, kayakers from the Grand Rapids Whitewater Society, and women in 1940s clothing, waving handkerchiefs from the second floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, all had made brief appearances.
“Grand Rapids is an incredible town,” said longtime local arts activist Sharon Yentsch, watching rehearsal at Rosa Parks Circle. “Residents should be proud.”
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