CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Service members and base patrons dining and shopping in the Marine Corps Exchange aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune witnessed an unusual act, July 13. In the blink of an eye a group of people suddenly assembled inside of the main entrance of the exchange and caught viewers off guard with their dance performance.
The occasion created by Bill Wasik, the senior editor of Harper’s Magazine, is commonly known as a flash mob. These unique performances first broke loose in Manhattan in 2003, and they’ve made their way to MCB Camp Lejeune for the first time.
Wasik claimed he created flash mobs as a playful social experiment to temporarily take over public areas with spontaneous gatherings.
Eileen McCallum, a family readiness program trainer with Marine and Family Programs Division, Marine Corps Community Services, wanted to conduct an experiment of her own to help promote MCCS programs in an enjoyable fashion, so she coordinated and rallied up base patrons interested in participating in the flash mob.
“We had help from the Children Youth and Teen Program, family readiness officers, the MCCS Marketing Office and Exceptional Family Member Program staff,” said McCallum. “We just wanted to do something to bring everyone together to have fun.”
More than 40 people participated in the event. Approximately half of the flash mob was comprised of children from ages 12 to 17 from the youth programs on base.
“(Marine and Family Programs staff) came over to us last week ask us if we wanted to participate in the flash mob and all of the kids were excited to hear the news,” said Cedric McDonald, the assistant director for Teen Program. “Every one of our kids was up here dancing, and they all had a good time.”
With help from prior dance experience, McCallum choreographed an eight-count dance routine simple enough for anyone to learn. The group practiced the moves for a week before the debut. “Call Me Maybe,” by Carly Rae Jepsen, was the song she picked for the mob to groove to.
“I picked the song because the (lyrics) relate to our effort in promoting the programs we have available,” said McCallum.
The dancing wrapped up in less than two minutes and some of the participants attempted to disperse quickly, as is customary after flash mobs. Many fell short of a fast exit to stop and satisfy a sweet tooth at the booths set up by Marine and Family Programs handing out cookies and cupcakes to anyone with a craving.
They always find a way to give back to the service members, families and patrons, said McCallum. Their mission and goal is to support the families.
McCallum replied with a sly smile when a spectator asked when the next flash mob might be.
“Flash mobs are spontaneous,” replied McCallum. “It’s the whole point and it’s what makes it fun, so you’ll have to wait until it happens. Seeing all of the participants was very inspirational, and I can’t wait to do this again.”