We interrupt the coronavirus pandemic for this special announcement: Jump around!
For the fourth Saturday in a row on April 25 at 3 p.m., people across Wisconsin bounced in their driveways or front lawns for 3½ minutes while radio stations across the state played the 1992 House of Pain hit, “Jump Around.” It’s a well-deserved break from being stuck at home for most of the last month to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Joe Lahti and Greg Thomson of Sun Prairie started Jump Around Wisconsin as a diversion after Gov. Tony Evers issued his safer-at-home order. The Lahti and Thomson families, who live across from each other, cranked “Jump Around” on Greg’s cellphone, which he wired into an old boombox.
Lahtis and Thomsons jumped up and down March 25 — each family in its own driveway for social distancing — as if they were at a Badgers game in Madison. They mimicked what happens at the end of the third quarter of games, when most of the 80,000 people who fill the stadium go crazy to the song.
Today, the Jump Around Wisconsin Facebook group has more than 113,000 members, and radio stations across the state will play the song at 3 p.m. So this coming Saturday could feature more people than ever before.
Thousands of people have posted videos of themselves doing the “Jump Around” at their homes during the last four Saturdays across Wisconsin, with some participants bouncing as far away as Hawaii, Australia and Russia.
Lahti and Thomson are Wisconsin Badgers fans who have gone to football games in the past. But this is much bigger than that.
“It’s more about the spirit of the state and the people here, and how much we love it,” Thomson said.
They were inspired by the people in Italy who sang from balconies during the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic there. But they wanted to do something with a Wisconsin flair. After twice doing the “Jump Around” in their neighborhood, the Lahtis and Thomsons were featured in a PBS Wisconsin story that drew attention online. That convinced Lahti and Thomson to start a Facebook group and announce the first Saturday “Jump Around” for April 4. Within 5 or 10 minutes, their post had about 7,000 likes. Lahti called local radio stations to see if they would play the song at the same time, and now everyone can jump together outside their homes, no matter where they live.
“I expected one or two” stations would participate, Lahti said. “I didn’t expect the 104 radio stations we have now.”
It’s easy to join the Facebook group online. You can tune in a minute early to hear an introduction to the song that Matt Lepay, the radio announcer for Wisconsin football games, playfully recorded for Jump Around Wisconsin. The group broadcasts a 30-minute pregame show at Twitch.tv/JumpWisconsin.
Lahti, a cartographer, and Thomson, who works for a software consulting company, plan to continue their Saturday ritual as long as Wisconsin’s safer-at-home order continues. And maybe, they said, after the restrictions are lifted, they’ll organize one last jump with everybody who wants to come in person.
Today’s “Jump Around” is just what the doctor ordered: a fun and communal lift that pulls our state together despite the disease that keeps us apart.
— Wisconsin State Journal