Walkway to host Hokey Pokey record attempt June 9

Pictured (L-R): Cyhlee Villano, Emilee Villano, Story Laurie McIntosh, Adriana Pizzarelli and Landon Walton. McIntosh's recently released rendition of the Hokey Pokey will be broadcast on WEOK to thousands of participants stretched for more than a mile along the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. All participants will be counted in the attempt to break the world record for the longest line of dancers performing the same dance. (Lauren Thomas)

Right hands will be put in. Right hands will be put out. Right hands, left hands and feet will be shaken all about — and hopefully in record numbers. On June 9, Walkway Over the Hudson State Park is sponsoring a Guinness World Record attempt — one that could involve at least 3,000 people doing the Hokey Pokey — for the longest line of dancers performing the same dance.

The original record for the longest dance line was set in Estonia in 2008 with a jig known as the “Toe Dance.” So why has the Walkway crew set their hearts on the Hokey Pokey?

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“Well, ‘that’s what it’s all about.’ Isn’t it?” joked Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart, the executive director of Walkway Over the Hudson.

Since the Hokey Pokey is known by just about every grade schooler or wedding attendee in the entire United States, it’s a pretty easy dance. Going for a record with it won’t require extensive rehearsals.

“Because, as you know, the Hokey Pokey tells you what to do as you do it. You know? ‘You put your right hand in. You put your right hand out,’” she said. “It’s just fun. You can’t hardly say ‘Hokey Pokey’ without laughing.”

At 1.28 miles from end to end, the Walkway Over the Hudson might just be the perfect venue for a long, unbroken line of dancers.

“We knew we had this wonderful linear space,” she said. “We had other ideas like ‘world’s longest tug-of-war,’ ‘world’s longest hop-scotch’ … and believe me, people have done everything you can imagine.”

Guinness record keepers have made some requests to make sure that Walkway’s attempt is legitimate. Turnstiles from the Hudson Valley Renegades’ stadium are on loan to help count participants as they enter the park. Dancers will also have to dance continuously for 5 minutes.

“Guinness isn’t playing around,” she said.

Technically, only 2,351 dancers are needed to break that record. But the Walkway folks want to make sure they break that number.

June 9’s Hokey Pokey song itself also has local roots. “Story Laurie” McIntosh, who is best known for her children’s music, recorded a special 5 minute version of the song with Dean Jones, from the band Dog on Fleas.

Money raised by the event will go to help improve the park by paying for new bathrooms, concession stands, a park office and a visitor center.

“We have some big projects to finish at the park itself,” Waldstein-Hart said.

Hokey Pokey dancers will line up along the old rail bridge spanning the Hudson River after the check-in period from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Pets aren’t allowed at the event, and dancers themselves have to be older than 7. Registration cost $15 per person. Sign up at www.walkway.org. ++

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