One day in April, Cailin Quirk was talking with Aaron Rodriguez about the Phoenix Rising School’s participation in the upcoming Yelm Prairie Days parade. “We should do a flash mob,” she said half-jokingly. “That’s a great idea,” he replied in complete seriousness.
Since Cailin is the PRS Development Coordinator and Aaron is its Executive Director, it wasn’t long before the idea spread to the rest of the staff. One problem: most of them had never even attended a Prairie Days parade, let alone participated in one and several had never heard of a flash mob. Fortunately, salvation was at hand in the multi-talented form of workshop instructor Dawn Young. Dawn, a vocal, improv, and cooking workshop instructor at PRS, knew exactly what to do based on her experience in previous parades, plus a healthy dose of theatrical training. She conceptualized the float, drew a basic blueprint, choreographed a dance routine along with Kindergarten teacher Audrey Goodwin Arpin, and explained to the staff exactly how the mob could – and would – work. This seemingly crazy idea started to come to life.
Next, staff members Sophie Sykes and Jan Ferrari signed on to send out a mass evite, Audrey started conducting practices with occasional help from Dawn, Cherie and Dave Hygaard constructed a float that the middle school students painted and Neil Kaber agreed to be a mad scientist on board the “schoolhouse” part of the float. The middle school also assisted Dawn in batiking custom Phoenix Rising t-shirts that Cherie had made for the event, and Jeevan Anandasakaran created banners and hooked up a sound system. When the big day arrived, Kurt Loertscher drove, Eric Delorme, Sonya El Debssi, Luby Missov and his wife Ruth filmed, Colin Clare took pictures and dozens of PRS parents and staff joined the mob for a joyful explosion that shook up the parade and made everyone who saw it smile. This event definitely put PRS on the community map for many who didn’t even know we existed. Thank you to all who participated for making Cailin’s comment a reality. Just imagine what could happen next year!
To view a complete photo gallery of the parade, click here: