Friday, July 8, 2011

Flash Mob Invades Duluth

If you're like me, you've heard of flash mobs but have never actually seen one. You know that it is supposedly an event orchestrated to appear spontaneous involving lots of people in a public space. They assemble, do something unusual, then disperse. At least, that's been my understanding.

So yesterday I was grabbing a bite to eat and killing a half hour during the lunch hour in Downtown Duluth. I needed to drop something off down at the Depot, but a sign on the door said they were away till 12:30. Fine. It was Sidewalk Days here and I thought maybe I'd check things out.

Usually the streets are pretty jammed for this annual public street sale, and with the sun so comfortably bright I was a bit surprised there were so few people around.

As I walked east I saw that things looked busier up a few blocks ahead, and when I reached the First Bank building just after noon I had an inkling that something was up. Suddenly the music began blaring from the large speakers which rock bands might use in stadiums. There was a large open space in the street with a crowd encircling it in expectation. And while everyone was facing the street I noticed a group of cheery faced mini cheerleaders "complete with pom poms" come running out of the bank as if the gates had just opened at the Kentucky Derby. Everyone except me was facing the other way as these cherub faced kids streamed through the crowd, bouncing off my arm and side as they made their way to the street. (You will see their entrance in the video.)

Actually, the flash mob event did not surprise me because organizer Crystal Taylor (above right) has been exhausting herself for the past few weeks attempting by all means possible to train the scripted dance routine the mob would perform. Crystal is a friend of a friend and told me it was a-comin'. What did surprise me was that I happened to be there when it happened.

With cameras and news crews everywhere, I figured there was a strong likelihood of finding some footage online the next day to share here. Sure enough, this link will take you to the Duluth News Tribune's account, with video footage. Right near the beginning you can see those little girls stream out from the bank, and if you look real close, I'm the man in the grey suit. I probably should have just torn off that jacket and tie and jumped right in.

Oh well, tomorrow's another day.

Top right: Crystal Taylor graphic design based on foto by Andrew Perfetti

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