The steps and their sequence are said to trace the outline of Prince George's County. But it is a proud puff of the chest that is the signature move of a new line dance that dozens of county residents put to the test last night at Rosecroft Raceway.
They were doing the "pride slide," a group dance created by and for Prince Georgians as part of a countywide campaign to help residents feel better about where they live.
The dance was the highlight of the "Prince George's Proud" festival, an evening event designed to attract families and tout the benefits of living in the county. Set in a carnival-like atmosphere, residents could enjoy rides, food, games and exhibits about the county.
"The dance is good in that it promotes Prince George's County, said Ervin Reid, one of the campaign's organizers, as he waited to take his turn in the dunk tank. "Yes, we are in the D.C. metropolitan area. But we are Prince George's, and we are unique."
Organizers say the event was part of a movement designed to convince residents that there is more to Prince George's than the crime and failing schools that have received so much publicity.
A committee of county residents and politicians kicked off the campaign with a rally in July. They stood at busy intersections throughout the county and waved signs that read, "Prince George's Proud: Discover Us." They also handed out fliers that noted Prince George's has 33,600 high-tech jobs, 900 high-tech firms, more than 200 historic sites, the University of Maryland at College Park, Bowie State University and Redskins Stadium.
The campaign comes as the Prince George's Economic Development Corp. attempts a more aggressive marketing strategy to grab the attention of outside retailers and other businesses and investors. Throughout the summer, the agency purchased television and radio spots that focused on the county's business parks, high-tech industry, residential neighborhoods and colleges.
County leaders say such efforts are needed to keep prospective newcomers from being driven away from the county by the negative things they hear. They also say the campaign is a way to reach out to residents who have no roots in Prince George's and know little about what makes it special. To that end, there were displays about the county's parks, its history and other features.
The "pride slide," choreographed by Shelly Green, 35, a county resident and former cheerleader, is intended to draw residents together for a little fun. John Moss, chief assistant sheriff to Sheriff Alonzo D. Black, wrote the original music.
"It's not complicated at all. It's really cute," said Pat Bendross, one of the festival organizers. "We thought this was a wonderful opportunity to come and do something positive because we all love our county," she said.
Rashaunda Dickens, 11, was one of six members of the District Heights Stomping Pandas who were on hand to teach people how to do the pride slide. Participants were all entered in a drawing to win $1,000.
"I think it's great; we get to twist and turn," she said. "But I think it's going to be a little hard [for some] because older people can't catch on that fast."