The first-ever flash mob of 100 dancers at historic Santa Anita horse race track broke out without warning in a choreographed routine amidst an estimated crowd of 15,000 Saturday afternoon who were moved from initial wide-eyed surprise to big smiles and ultimately a strong round of applause.
<Story continues below the following 2 1/2-minute video of the flash mob… — also see more videos posted by others at bottom of this story>
The two-minute surprise performance sparked by LMFAO’s upbeat popular song “Party Rock Anthem” blaring through the stadium’s sound system was organized by the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce with the assistance of Santa Anita Park to to take place on (cancer) Survivors Day at the track and promote the American Cancer Society‘s annual Relay for Life event at Santa Anita June 23-24. Supporters of Relay for Life form teams that take turns walking for 24-hours on the track infield to raise funds and awareness for cancer survivors and research.
Dancing to choreography by dancer/instructor Ricky Sun and Evoke Dance Group, amateur volunteer dancers from age five to 75 recruited by the Chamber suddenly appeared at the foot of the grandstands wearing purple shirts sponsored by Walgreens of Arcadia on Foothill Blvd with giant Relay for Life wording. Nearly 20 Evoke dancers, a group of recent Arcadia High School graduates founded by Jeniffer Hsu, Justine Hsu, and Josephine Lau who had quietly led a half-dozen instructional classes over the last month for dozens of volunteers at a studio space donated by 1999 AHS grad Kelly Huang at Arcadia Fitness Sports Club, were the first to burst into the crowd and begin dancing and catch the eye of the crowd and and viewers who saw them live on the giant HD screen.
Seconds later a group of about 30 other dancers dressed incognito and sitting on the next terraced level between the grandstands and the track shed their outer garments to reveal their purple shirts and exhuberantly join the dance. Likewise, a few seconds later, another 30 dancers led by Sun, a former contestant on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” who has also been teaching the flash mob routine to his dance students and others, joined the routine on the third terrace level. Finally, about 20 dancers emerged from an underground track-side stairway to complete the group.
Dozens of Arcadia school students of all ages participated, thanks to the word being spread quietly by Arcadia High School dance supervisor Liza Tedford to instructors at every school, including Foothills Middle School dance coach Marissa Lluch, who recruited many participants.
Likewise, word was spread among Relay for Life teams by volunteer Relay organizers Carter Spruill of the Arcadia School District and Beth Goldberg of Walgreens.
The entire group met and rehearsed together for the first time just two hours before show time in the secluded “Top o’ the Stretch” area at the far end of the grandstands.
Chamber members participated and recruited friends and family, such as board member Joan Francone’s friend Stacey Martinez, who brought about 30 students from her Dance Family Studio in Pasadena. Other Chamber members not only mustered the courage to perform their first public dance but also showed additional support in other ways, such as Jerry Dominguez, whose Printing Control company created the graphic shown on the giant video board following the flash mob as legendary track announcer Trevor Denman thanked the Chamber, Ricky Sun, and Evoke Dance Group whole alerting the crowd to the June 23-24 Relay for Life event.
About two-dozen employees at Santa Anita sported the purple shirts and danced along with the flash mob from their posts at various locations throughout the track, some while watching on TV monitors.
That secret coordination of announcements and logistics at the track — designating space to meet before the race, donating 15 cases of bottled water and ice, providing parking and admission passes and signage for participants and their families — was coordinated by event coordinator Elizabeth Booth with generous approvals and assistance by marketing executives Chris Quinn and Nate Newby, and coverage of the event by three stadium TV cameras handled by HRTV‘s Amy Zimmerman.
– By Scott Hettrick