Kristen DeWilde loves to dance. This is what enabled her to overcome the separation from her parents. And so the friends who were having a bachelorette party for her in Philadelphia this weekend knew exactly what to do.
They ordered a surprise dance party in Franklin Square Park.
The choreographer they hired, Alexandra Vidich, appealed earlier in the week for a practice at the park on Saturday afternoon. A few dancing friends and someone who just saw the notice on a community panel came over and together they worked out some routines on the music of Nutcracker.
âIt’s the season to try something interesting,â said Jimmy Quach, 37, a fitness and yoga buff who has joined the practice.
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Vidich, 37, was hired to host the show on Saturday night through BookAFlashMob.com, a non-profit organization specializing in hosting pop-up dances. While she often put on bigger shows, Vidich wanted to keep this one small due to COVID-19 and was really only looking for a handful of dancers.
She said she was not worried about the high winds forecast for the evening. Temperatures were in the balmy 60s in the afternoon with a bit of sunshine through. Quach introduced himself in a T-shirt.
Christine Nelson, 58, a librarian from Philadelphia, said she was participating to support Vidich, whose work she admires.
âAlexandra is really amazing at bringing joy to public spaces in unexpected ways so I’m really happy to be here even though it’s small,â she said.
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While Vidich and his dancers trained, the party attendees, seven in all, drove and plane to Philadelphia. DeWilde, 26, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and wanted to come back to Philadelphia for the party. Her wedding is in Texas next weekend.
Her friends lured her to Franklin Square under the pretext of seeing a light show there. They were to congregate near a fireplace and this is when the dancers in Vidich were to pounce or prance.
One of the revelers also showed up for training. âI’m not the tallest dancer so we’ll see how it goes,â said Michelle Mlacker, 27, also a graduate of Penn Law, who lives and works in Jersey City.
But soon she had joined the other dancers and was laughing as they circled around. After 90 minutes of practice, the group was ready. Now all they needed was the bride.
DeWilde works as a paralegal for a federal judge in Texas. Her flight to Philly was delayed a bit. Still, everything worked.
âI’m shocked,â DeWilde said shortly after the show. âI’m just so grateful to have friends who know me so well, that they would know I would like a surprise like this. How touching.
Personal photographer Thomas Hengge contributed to this article.