PITTSBURG — The competition is fierce going into this year’s Dance Crew.

The 2016 dance-off features five teams vying for the title and the bragging rights that go with it, beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday at the St. Mary’s Colgan Fieldhouse.

The show fills an evening as audiences watch performances by students from SMC and members of the parish, with the priests taking the stage for the final dance each year. Creative and hilarious introductory videos for each dance crew add about as much fun as the dances themselves.

“It started as a way to raise money for the Catholic Youth and this is how it’s ended up,” said Janice Dellasega, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church’s coordinator for youth formation.

The event has grown throughout it’s seven years and will be even bigger this year in honor of a parish-wide celebration.

“This year’s a really big year for us because we’re celebrating 100 years of continual Catholic education,” said Jessica Nicholson, communications and marketing coordinator for the parish.

“We have bumped things up,” Dellasega said. “There’s a little more lighting and a little more music.”

She attributed some of the improvements to Brad Wells and Tony Sanchez, who are among many who help pull off the event each year.

Dellasega said when it first began, students eagerly got on board, then others joined in.

“It’s just the competator spirit and watching the teams wanting to be a part of it,” said Claire Patterson, who is part of a team of SMC girls preparing to compete.

Ryan Cedeno said his team of SMC boys have celebrated since last year’s win and are returning to defend the title, particularly against one team.

“They put the trophy on display at the school, and it’s also wanting to be able to say, ‘We beat the priests,’” he said.

Their teams began planning for this year’s event on the heels of last year’s Dance Crew, and have been practicing on their own time for the past several weeks.

About 30 women within the parish have been practicing for their dance routine since last November, and Kapaun’s Men also have a team in the works.

“For guys, it’s a much bigger challenge,” said Dennis Burke, a member of the team. “We fight over who gets on the back row. We like costumes that are very concealing. But then there’s that bit of competitiveness that kicks in … Men always want to be No. 1. It doesn’t matter what it means - we’re going to win it.”

Burke’s fighting words also were echoed by the students.

“They might want to watch out, because our crew’s going to knock it out of the park with this one,” Patterson said.

Not to be bested, Cedeno had words of his own.

“We’re bad boys, so watch out,” he said.

The smack talk always ramps up, but the event also helps the community grow closer.

“Each year preparing for the dance can be a pain, but Karen and I were talking yesterday and without this event we would not be getting to know some very wonderful ladies from the parish,” said Julie Dellasega, who is participating on the Ladies of the Parish team. “We really have a diverse group and the fellowship has been wonderful, hopefully for everyone.”

Janice Dellasega agreed.

“It’s a lot of communtiy, and that’s the fun of all of it,” Dellasega said, adding when the dancing is over and the winner is crowned the entire party will move to a private location, allowing everyone to talk and laugh together.

Ticket prices are $5 for students, $8 for adults or $25 for a family. Seniors age 70+ are free/donation.

— Sarah Gooding is a staff writer at The Morning Sun and can be reached at sgooding@morningsun.net