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Cincinnati Does the Happy Dance

Chilly temperatures couldn’t keep Cincinnati from getting happy on Sunday, March 23 when nearly 50 people showed up to help dance fitness instructor “Big John” Drury perform to Pharrell William’s hit song “Happy” in downtown's Fountain Square. John, a truck driver who teaches dance fitness on the weekends, says he staged the event to encourage happiness.

[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edOJiZcOYk8&feature=youtu.be width:525 height:394 align:center autoplay:0]

“With all the negativity in the world today, I think people need a little positivity, and that’s what I’m trying to bring to downtown Cincinnati – a little more happiness,” he said. “I’m a big fan of Pharrell Williams, and that song is so contagious – I think it touches everybody.”

After a quick review of the dance moves – in temperatures struggling to reach the low 40s – the impromptu dance troupe enthusiastically took over the square and showed off their moves. Some were students of John’s who had come specifically to join in the dance; others were passers-by who couldn’t resist joining in.

The line dance borrowed some moves from Pharrell’s video for the song, and John led the dancers while wearing a black t-shirt adorned by a bright yellow smiley face. His towering 6-foot 7-inch frame was as impossible to overlook as the neon yellow tennis shoes on his feet and the grin on his face. As a crowd of curious onlookers grew, it was impossible to tell who had the biggest smiles: the dancers or the spectators.

“How many people are happy here today?” John shouted as the song came to a close. The cheers, whistles and clapping indicated the feeling was universal. 


John had a friend on hand to videotape the event, and he plans to send it to Pharrell’s camp. “Hopefully he gets to see it, and knows what a difference he’s making,” John says. “I’m just joining the campaign that he’s on – to make people a little happier.”

John’s wife, Lori, joined in the dance and says she wasn’t surprised by his idea to make a dance video of the song.

“Originally, he was going to do it solo, and dance by himself in front of the fountain,” she says. “But I said, ‘Let’s get the word out and get Cincinnati involved’ – and it worked! We didn’t know how many people would come out, but we had a great turnout. There are a lot of happy people in Cincinnati.”

And, by the time they were finished, there were even more. 

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