Coronabusters

The East Bell County Coronabusters pose for a group photo at Tom Sefcik Hall after dancing in a light-hearted music video to support local front line heroes of the COVID-19 crisis. The video, produced by local photographer Earl Nottingham, quickly went viral with over 24,000 YouTube views in four days. Pictured are: Paul Stinson, Kenny Sulak, Theresa Zavodny, Rick Beck, Carol White, Edwin Pechal, Elaine Zavodny, Jerry Haisler, Billy Popelka, Melanie Zavodny, Helen Haisler, Jeff White and James Skrabanek.

The East Bell County Coronabusters is a group of local residents who swoop into an area and eliminate the coronavirus — at least that is the case in a recent viral video produced by the group.

The group, which is really made up of local business owners, came together to just make a silly video while most people were stuck at home. A video, showing the group dance around to a specially written song, saw more than 25,000 views in its first week after being posted.

Billy Popelka, who thought of the idea and organized the group, said he never thought his random idea would have gotten so many views.

“It was all done in fun to start off with,” Popelka said. “I thought it would be fun to just do a music video and ask a bunch of the notables of East Bell County, people that people would recognize.”

Popelka said he got the inspiration for the video after watching a similar video on how rednecks would fight the coronavirus, while wanting to use his newly bought Hummer in some way.

Once he had the idea, Popelka said he asked friends Jerry Haisler, who plays polka music, and Earl Nottingham to come up with the music and film respectively. Popelka only asked the others in the video to bring their white suits, along with a gun or hoe with Lysol cans attached, to the video shoot.

Popelka said he chose to shoot the video at Tom Sefcik Hall east of Temple to honor his, and the group’s, Czech heritage.

Nottingham, a photographer for Texas Parks and Wildlife, said he decided he wanted to increase the production value for the video after listening to Popelka’s idea.

To produce the video Nottingham used two iPhones and a GoPro, spending more than three hours directing the participants to dance and perform various elements of the video. Filming took several takes, with slight directions to get the best shots.

Nottingham said it took much longer to cut down and edit the footage from the filming session into the video than it did to film it.

“I thought we would have several hundred views on it, but people kept on sharing it,” Nottingham said. “I told (the participants) that this was their chance to act like a child again and to just go with it and do their own thing. I just followed them around with the camera.”

In addition to having fun, Popelka said the video was a chance for the group to support emergency responders both locally and abroad. He said he planned to send the video to the Czech Republic as well to show solidarity with those who are going through similar experiences with the virus as residents here.