It seemed like a normal Friday afternoon at Victoria Park.
Cyclists lazily pedalled along the cobblestone paths past families picnicking on the lawn, while children wearing brightly coloured tee shirts and hoisting tiny backpacks marched in orderly rows behind cheerful camp counsellors.
On stage, three-piece band Corner Pocket entertained a large crowd at Tunes in the Park with feel-good standards like “Blue Moon” and “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Suddenly, as the band broke into Shel Silverstein’s “The Unicorn Song,” many seniors in the audience leapt to their feet and began singing and dancing along to the chorus.
“There were green alligators and long-necked geese,” they sang, miming jaws chomping and wings flapping as the crowd laughed and joined in.
“Some humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees,” the seniors continued, grinning widely as they bobbed their heads and tickled their underarms.
The flash mob, which involved several hundred seniors from Charlotte Villa, Telfer Place, and Park View retirement homes, was a fun way to get residents involved in the performance, said organizer Sasha Pepper, director of recreation at Charlotte Villa.
“It’s not very often that seniors participate in anything because people think they’re just seniors,” Pepper said. “But they’re still young at heart. They still need to do everything everyone else does.”
Pepper and her counterparts taught the choreography to the seniors after meals and during exercise classes. The flash mob concept was a new one for most involved, but Pepper used the analogy of doing the wave at a Blue Jays game to explain the idea.
“It’s just fun,” said Martha MacRae, one of four friends from Park View who showed off their excellent dance moves.
Irma Proctor said it was nice to be out enjoying the music in the fresh air.
“I just like it out here,” she said.
“It’s a good crowd,” agreed Marilyn Apigian, dancing alongside her mother Mary and sister Margaret Vitanza.
Anita Tamminga, recreation coordinator at Park View, was delighted to see the residents having such a great time.
“They loved the idea,” she said. “If you give them the opportunity, they’ll do it. They’re a very active crew.”
Tamminga and her staff led practices over the intercom for residents with limited mobility.
“I told them about Youtube, and the internet,” she said, smiling.
Getting involved in the show made the regular Tunes in the Park concert even more special for the seniors, Pepper said.
“They look forward every Friday to come down to the park,” she said.