MERRILLVILLE | The Dancing with the Local Stars contest will waltz its way back to the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza on Thursday.
The annual competition benefits the Lake Area United Way and will feature local amateurs and professionals performing to raise money for the 2014 United Way campaign.
Tickets for the event, scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m., are $20 for adults and $10 for youths 17 and younger.
This year’s contestants include professionals from Fred Astaire and Arthur Murray dance studios and various amateurs, including Matt Sharp, auto correspondent/niche assistant at The Times.
Sharp, who is paired with Hannah Pender, of Fred Astaire, had never danced before preparing for the competition and has found it “very challenging,” he said.
Like his fellow contestants, Sharp spent weeks learning routines. On Thursday, the pairs will be performing two-minute routines.
“(Sharp and Pender) will be doing a rhumba,” he said.
Other amateur “stars” include Melissa Bohacek, communications manager/executive assistant, Northwest Indiana Community Action; Dave Pishkur, teacher and varsity baseball coach at Andrean High School; Maria Rodriquez, financial secretary, United Steelworkers Local 1010; and Michael Feldman, operations front line manager, Unilever.
The professional dance instructors paired with them include Pender; Kenneth Kollasch II, of Arthur Murray; and Danielle Karczewski and Kevin Crowe, of Fred Astaire.
The competition will begin with all the contestants dancing the four-count hustle together. Following this performance, each pair will dance a separate routine. The evening’s dances will include the fox trot, mambo, rumba, samba, tango and others.
The event was organized by Tim and Sue Bourget, of Second Street Dance Studio in Schererville.
Tickets can be obtained by paying with cash, check or credit card in advance at the Lake Area United Way. Tickets also can be purchased at the door.
Checks should be made payable to Lake Area United Way and mailed to 221 W. Ridge Road, Griffith, IN 46319. For more information, call (219) 923-2302, ext. 302.