By Curt Yeomans
Two young women emerged from the water at the Beach at International Park in Jonesboro on Wednesday afternoon, and looked at each other with confused gazes.
What attracted their curiosity was a group of 35 Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department employees, in the sand, repeatedly falling down in sync, and then standing up and doing it again, and again, and again.
"What are they doing over there?" one of the women asked, before the employees fell down -- again.
"Oh, it's like a flash mob," said the other woman, as she and her friend continued to walk away.
The "flash mob" comment referred to the pop culture phenomenon where large numbers of people gather in one spot and do the same action in unison. Clayton's parks and recreation department organized the "flash mob" as part of the filming of a video, according to Lindsey DeLong, a marketing and sales specialist for the department. She said the video will be posted on YouTube by the end of the month.
"We are recognizing the nationally celebrated [fact that] July is National Parks and Recreation month," DeLong said. "There is a competition [that] NRPA, which stands for National Recreation and Parks Association, is hosting, where on the local level, you submit a flash mob [video]."
The focus of the video, the parks and recreation specialist explained, will be the importance of staying hydrated while participating in outdoor activities, particularly on hot days. Thermometers at the beach showed the temperature was in the mid-90s on Wednesday afternoon.
"The whole tagline for this is 'Hydration for Recreation,' " DeLong said. "It's hot, [and] people are outside. It's important that you stay hydrated."
The department's marketing staff spent Tuesday and Wednesday filming the video, DeLong explained. On Tuesday, she said, several Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department employees were filmed participating in several recreation activities, including soccer, volleyball and horseshoes.
Some of those employees, and several more parks and recreation staff members, were brought together on Wednesday, filming the final scenes of the video.
That is where the "flash mob" element came into play. All of the gathered employees had to collapse onto the sand at the beach, in unison, at the sound of a bullhorn blast. "They're all going to collapse together, as if they are exhausted from doing all of these activities," DeLong said.
None of the people who came to the beach, merely to play in the water and sand, was informed that a "flash mob" was going to happen, however. DeLong said that information was withheld so marketing staffers could video tape the reactions people had to the sight of several employees collapsing at once.
Mostly, the activity drew only the attention of curious children, some of whom walked up amongst the employees lying in the sand, and looked around for a few seconds before running off to play.
Towards the end of the shoot, a parks and recreation department employee came out in the department's "Dig the Dog" mascot costume, and pretended to be an "H2O superhero," who poured water on the people lying in the sand. The water caused them to jump up and spring back to life.
DeLong said approximately 50 employees participated in the filming of the video, between the Tuesday and Wednesday shoots.
Several employees who were part of the "flash mob" said they had fun participating in the filming, but they also stressed the importance of staying hydrated. Many of the employees work at the beach in various jobs, ranging from lifeguards, to ticket sales attendants, to gate and games workers.
"This summer is very hot, and if you're out there too long, without drinking some water, you're going to end up passing out," said gate and games worker Brittany Waller.
Lifeguard Spencer Bisch added: "If you get too hot, you'll sweat it [water] all out, and become exhausted. It will just seem like you're dragging along. So, it's good to stay hydrated, or else you'll just feel like a spadoodie."
Ticket sales attendant Trevon McCary-Glenn, who participated in both days of filming, said the high temperatures that existed while the filming took place highlighted the importance of the message behind the "flash mob" and the video.
"Since we're outside, we're sweating a whole bunch, and we didn't have much to drink [on Tuesday]," McCary-Glenn said. "So, when we were having the water thrown on us [on Wednesday], it really underscored the fact that we need to stay hydrated."
DeLong said her sister, Casey DeLong, a freelance film producer will do post-production on the video, including editing all of the scenes together. The marketing and sales specialist said the department is on a deadline to get the video put together, and on the Internet within the next couple of weeks.
"It has to be done in the month of July, according to the criteria set by NRPA," she said. "It [also] has to be uploaded, in video format, on YouTube, submitted by Aug. 1."
Lindsey DeLong said a link to the video will be posted on the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department's web site, www.claytonparks.com, once the film is uploaded to YouTube.