Thursday, August 19, 2010

REVIEW: Confessions of a Detroit Flash Mob - Freeze4Friendship


On Wednesday, I saw my very first "Flash Mob" - and I LOVED IT! For those of you who don't know, a flash mob is when a group of people descend on a spot at a specific time to do something out of character for the location. And this flash mob descended on Somerset Mall in Troy to "freeze in place" for 5 minutes to benefit a very worthy charity - The Friendship Circle in West Bloomfield, MI. The Friendship Circle is holding their Walk4Friendship Fundraiser on September 5th and this Freeze4Friendship was staged to help bring public awareness to the walk.

My son with the Ford Fiesta social media car
My son showing off the Ford Fiesta to some Friendship Circle volunteers
I love when events are well organized and the Freeze4Friendshp was executed down to the second. My son and I arrived at Somerset Mall in Troy at 5pm. We entered the parking deck and were greeted by volunteers from the Friendship Circle who asked to mark my vehicle as part of the event. I was driving the just released Ford Fiesta and was getting all kinds of appreciative looks from the crowd. I won the use of a Ford Fiesta for 5 days as part of a Ford employee social media contest so watch for my posts on all the other cool places that I took my Ford Fiesta on it's social media tour around Detroit.

Being a Mob takes lots of work
After my Ford Fiesta got a Friendship Circle makeover with bright colored advertisements on the back car window, I drove to the top deck where the "mob" was assembling. There were folks everywhere in their Friendship Circle Walk4Friendship Purple t-shirts. The plan was for everyone to have the Walk4Friendship purple t-shirt covered up, freeze for 5 minutes at exactly 6pm, and then reveal the shirts after the freeze was over. My son had a fit to get one of those t-shirts. So I paid the $5 fee and then went around to talk with some of the folks. There were adults of all ages and kids as young as 3 years old. There were instructions being yelled out on a loud speaker about syncing watches and getting poses ready.

The energy level was wonderful as more and more people arrived. The Freeze4Friendship event was going for the largest flash mob total in the United States so there was far too many people for me to count. People were asked to check-in using Four Square on Twitter and I made sure to check-in the Ford Fiesta (the car came with it's own Four Square account) as part of the Freeze4Friendship Flash Mob so we could unlock the Swarm Badge.

The actual freeze was scheduled to happen inside Somerset Mall North by the fountain. When my son and I arrived at the scheduled spot, news crews and spectators was everywhere waiting for the 6pm start time. My son pleaded with me to be part of the freeze. I did not think he could hold a freeze for 5 minutes so we worked out a pose where he was sitting on the bench next to me with his arm frozen in a bent position. He was so excited for the freeze to start that he was jumping up and down.

Frozen in place for 5 minutes
Time to FREEZE
The Freeze4Friendship participants were everywhere on all three levels of the mall overlooking the fountain area. At exactly 6pm, everyone went into the freeze, including my son. The mall atmosphere went from loud and noisy to eerie calm and quiet. The folks that did not realize what was going on just looked on in total confusion. It was great! I could not believe that even my son held his freeze pose for the entire 5 minutes

At 6:05pm, everyone in a collective movement released their pose and removed their jackets to show their Walk4Friendship shirts as the crowd started clapping in unison - totally cool!

Bassie Shemtov, the Director of Friendship Circle with my son
Meet Bassie Shemtov
After the event, I caught up with Bassie Shemtov, the director of the Friendship Circle. She was giving interview after interview but made the time to thank me for coming and to pose for a photo with my son. As I was watching her give an interview, one of the volunteers came up to me and was just overflowing with praises for Bassie because of her work with the teenage volunteers at the Friendship Circle. I found out how all the teenage volunteers were growing in their character development from their time spent helping children with special needs.

I have to agree that Bassie Shemtov is a powerful force for positive change in the metro Detroit community. Her determination has positively influenced everyone that comes to the Friendship Circle - from the special needs kids and their families to the teenage volunteers. She has helped to organize a powerful team at the Friendship Circle and today's flash mob just underscored the true power of people working together for good.

So to end this post, I will leave you with a quote from Bassie Shemtov on why she does what she does - "Our goal is simple, to extend awareness about the innate beauty of children with special needs in and beyond our Metro Detroit community".

Click here to learn more about the Friendship Circle and their Walk4Friendship scheduled for September 5, 2010.  And click on the video below to see the Flash Mob in action for yourself.

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This is the camera that I use...

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