Highland Hills Elementary School principal Jake Bacon earned a new nickname Saturday night: MC Bacon.
He took on the persona of hip-hop recording artist MC Hammer — iconic pants and all — at Hermiston’s “season seven” of Dancing with the Hermiston Stars and went home with the coveted mirror ball trophy after dancing ballroom hip-hop to Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”
“That was pretty gangsta,” judge Larry Fetter told Bacon, joking that he now knew what a “man crush” was.
The night featured seven local “stars” paired with professional dancers from the Utah Ballroom Dance Company. Each local dancer was dancing for a nonprofit of their choice, and audience members could supplement the judges’ scores by dropping money in the jar of their favorite dancer’s charity during the intermission.
The event, which raised close to $10,000, was sponsored by the Hermiston Education Foundation.
The competition was fierce — Bacon beat out Hermiston High School drama teacher Beth Anderson by only four votes. Anderson, in keeping with the night’s theme of “music legends,” hit the stage in a blonde wig (and some other iconic features) to channel Dolly Parton, dancing the quickstep to “9 to 5.”
The highest judges’ score of the night went to Desert View Elementary School first grade teacher Kara Frazier, who shook and shimmied her way through a salsa to the sounds of Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie.” Frazier earned an almost-perfect 29 out of 30 for the performance.
“The hardest part has been wearing heels,” Frazier said in a video interview before the performance showing her and her partner in practice.
Jonny Badillo of Umatilla-Morrow Head Start danced a “Thriller”-themed cha cha as Michael Jackson. Hermiston Campus Life co-director Ashley Umbarger, looking very country in a fringe dress and cowboy boots, did a country two-step inspired by Loretta Lynn that featured a back flip. Mary Winebarger, a semi-retired bookkeeper, put in a long black wig and danced disco to Cher’s “Believe.”
Tony Garberg, director of cardiopulmonary services for Good Shepherd Medical Center, donned a purple velvet blazer and whirled his partner around in a foxtrot to “Walk Like a Man” by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons.
“You didn’t just walk like a man, you were the man!” judge Dawn Kennison-Kerrigan told him before the three judges awarded him a score of 26.
Audience members added their votes during intermission. While the votes were tallied they enjoyed a sampling of the ballroom company’s current show, which features numbers inspired by iconic dance scenes from movies such as “Dirty Dancing” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Hermiston is the company’s second stop on a tour of 45 shows, but the emcee told the audience that the stop holds a special place in their heart as their longest-running Dancing with Your Stars show. In past years it was hosted by the Desert Arts Council, but the Hermiston Education Foundation stepped in this year to bring it to town for another year.
Beneficiaries of the nearly $10,000 raised Saturday night were the education foundation, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, CASA, Altrusa International, Made to Thrive and Campus Life.