By MARTHA WAGGONER, Associated Press Writer
(September 18, 2009) -- Residents of the small North Carolina town of Lake Lure where dance instructor Johnny Castle practiced lifts with Baby Houseman in the iconic movie "Dirty Dancing" will remember star Patrick Swayze with a memorial service this Saturday at 7:00pm.
Age and fire have claimed many landmarks from the movie, but its imprint on Lake Lure, where much of it was filmed, remains.
"We've gotten a lot of calls from the community, from people wanting some place to go," said Michelle Whitaker of the Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority in the western part of the state. "The idea was born of people calling and requesting, 'What can I do? Where can I go to pay my respects?'"
Swayze died Monday evening in Los Angeles after fight with pancreatic cancer. He was 57. Among his best-known roles was Castle, the dance instructor at a Catskills resort who charms Baby, an idealistic young woman vacationing there with her family.
The town memorial service will be Saturday at Firefly Cove, a housing development that was a summer camp when "Dirty Dancing" was filmed in 1987. Castle's cabin was there, and it was the setting for many of the film's outdoor scenes.
"We do more 'Dirty Dancing' tours than property tours," said Terry Tincher, the broker for Firefly Cove. "It's amazing the following that movie has."
On any weekend, at least a few people ask for a tour of the movie's scenes - "young and old, ladies and guys," Tincher said. "The ladies cry, the guys get teary-eyed."
The gymnasium where many dancing scenes were filmed was taken down, but its foundation remains, and a cafeteria was struck by lightning and burned, Tincher said. The golf course where Baby asks her father, Dr. Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach), for money is the 16th hole at the nearby Rumbling Bald Resort.
The cove where Grey and Swayze practiced lifts in the water in October - "the water was frigid," Whitaker said - is visible from the boat tours run by Lake Lure Tours from March through November. The steps where Baby practiced dancing alone are still there, but the bridge is gone.
And talk about a geographic identity crisis: The Mountain Lake Hotel in Pembroke, Va., served as the movie's Kellerman Hotel in the Catskills, where the movie was set. But much of the cast and crew stayed at the Lake Lure Inn and Spa while they were filming in North Carolina.
As for that scene where Johnny and Baby practice dancing on a log over the water? The exact site remains a mystery. The scene was filmed on private property in Polk County, "but nobody knows where," Whitaker said. Polk is one county south of Rutherford, on the South Carolina line.
The locals remember Swayze as a kind family man, said the Rev. Everette Chapman, who will speak at the memorial service. Chapman, who lived at Lake Lure when the movie was filmed but didn't meet the actors, said he would talk about Swayze's determination to live each day to the fullest.
"I'll ask people their memory of him and just talk about him as every woman's heartthrob and every man's envy," said Chapman, minister of the nondenominational Fairfield Mountain Chapel.
Although the service is free, visitors will be asked to donate to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Organizers have no idea how many people to expect, although they've arranged for law enforcement to help with parking just in case.