Halloween came early for superheroes, dinosaurs and zombies that took to the streets in downtown Goldsboro during Thriller Night Friday.

The event drew record crowds, estimated at about 1,000 people, for the third annual event that centers on zombies dancing to the Michael Jackson hit "Thriller."

"You know that Michael Jackson -- he's a phenomenon," said Rita Freda, who waited near City Hall for the 7 p.m. performance.

"When my kids were younger, that used to scare them," she said. "Those were simple, fun times."

The dance, performed by about 30 people of all ages and dressed as zombies, was organized by the Legacy Dance Project, which practiced the moves for six weeks.

Before the performance, children and adults filled the downtown area, visiting stores that offered Halloween treats, and vehicles that lined Center Street and handed out candy during the event's trunk-or-treat. Food vendors and children's games were also set up nearby.

A contest for the best decorated vehicle went to Jamie Long, who converted his black jeep into a large spider.

The event was an effort by downtown business owners to offer a night of fun while showing appreciation to its customer base.

"I'm extremely happy with the turnout," said April Melrose, Peach Boutique owner and event coordinator. "We just want to give back to our patrons and kind of show off our talent with our dance studios and show off our beautiful downtown with what we have to offer."

Thriller Night, originally started by the Dancing Butterfly and the Legacy Dance Project, was hosted this year by Legacy, the Downtown Goldsboro Merchants Association and the Arts Council.

Brittany Smith, her husband and three children drove in from Kinston after learning about Thriller Night.

"We've never been to this," she said.

Her children also dressed the part, with the oldest, Maddox, 9, dressing as a headless horseman. Her son, Evan Pierce, 7, dressed as a pumpkin bobblehead, and her 18-month-old daughter, Presley, dressing as Belle from "Beauty and the Beast."

"I thought this would be fun for them," she said. "The 'Thriller' thing caught my eye. Everybody's a 'Thriller' fan."