Flash mob gone wrong (Children, Carols, Crisis, Cookies)

Led by the vision of a few of our Children our family and a few others planned a 3 minute flash mob at the local mall.  In all there was about 40 of us. After a brief practice at a local church our planned “go time” was 7:22 PM.  Everyone made their inconspicuous way into Valley View Mall just after 7 PM.

It would start with 8 children who would stand and sing some Carols beginning with “Joy to the World”.  More adults would join for another verse or two, then a verse of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and the conclusion, a verse of “O Holy Night”  It was about 3 ½ minutes of good music.  The purpose was to spread a little Christmas cheer and remind us all of the birth of Christ.

The start was subtle but strong.  As voices joined the volume grew and the crowd quieted.  Many pulled out their phones to video.  Others joined in singing.  Applause was heard at the end of each song.     

Then came the Crisis. About half-way through “O Holy Night” (ironically not long after the line “long lay the world in sin and error pining”) Mall security abruptly walked up and tapped the leader of the group on the shoulder.  The orders were a repeated and loud “STOP NOW” followed by a half-hearted hand-waving “cut” gesture.    And so we quit.  The abrupt ending was met with jeers from the crowd.  The crisis was enhanced by his threat to ban all singers from the mall for “1 year”.


Cheer up, It’s Christmas

So all in all, the night was a confused mix of excitement, joy, music, singing, yelling, and children moved from caroling to crying.  Followed by more over-reaction from the mall security officer we all left a bit deflated.  We rendezvoused at a restaurant to recount the story. 

So now the CookiesAfter some discussion a couple of us went back to the mall, purchased a ½ dozen cookies from the The Cookie Factory and presented them to the mall office for the officer who undoubtedly felt as bad as we.       

We realized that sometimes in life the opportunity to minister is not as we plan.  Although our attempt was to spread Christmas cheer to the masses we realized that our greatest opportunity was to minister to an over-zealous mall cop. 

All in all this was the summary of our night! 

Flash Mob – Fail

You-tube Sensation – Fail

Christmas memories made with family – NAILED IT!



About Pastor Troy Keaton

Founding pastor at EastLake Community Church at Smith Mountain Lake Virginia. View all posts by Pastor Troy Keaton

5 responses to “Flash mob gone wrong (Children, Carols, Crisis, Cookies)

  • Stacey

    Good morning Pastor Troy,
    My name is Stacey and I am a member of the Valley View Mall marketing team. We apologize for your experience at the mall last night. Valley View Mall welcomes musical performances, especially during the holiday season, but due to music licensing and insurance requirements, groups are required to get prior approval from mall management. We would love to work with you in the future to set up a performance. Again, we apologize, thank you for bringing the matter to our attention. Have a very Merry Christmas.
    Stacey Keating
    Regional Marketing Specialist

    • Vicki Jo Duncan

      Hi Stacey, hopefully Valley View Mall management will re-train security staff on the importance of being respectful while at the same time being informative if needed as to mall rules, and nonthreatening (i.e. being banned from the mall for one year…which I’m sure you especially will agree was not a great marketing comment) to folks in the mall who are being joyful at Christmas time! My one question I’d like to have answered is this: Was the head manager of the mall consulted that evening by the security guard on what action he should take? If so, it would only be fair to the security guard to let others know this. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

  • liz smith

    Required protocol needs to be followed by all. This is not an instance of discrimination against religious activities. It is an instance of religious groups not following the guidelines established for all groups. The Roanoke Times reported you were Invited back to repeat the same activities within the guidelines.

    • Pastor Troy Keaton

      Liz thanks for reading and the comment. We have never said this was religious discrimination. All of the “hubbub” started from a random shopper who posted their video to WDBJ7’s Facebook page. And this was not a “religious group”. It was devised by a 19 year old niece of mine and was basically a bunch of family members. The mall has admitted the security guard mishandled it. We hold no ill-will toward anyone. Happy new year!

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