JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md., --
To kick off their holiday concert season, the U.S. Air Force Band surprised visitors at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center atrium in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Nov. 29.
The band’s flash mob tradition began in 2013 as a way to advertise for their holiday concert series and has become an event many look forward to trying to find, since the location is not publicly advertised, in order to witness it.
“I’ve waited years to see this,” said Fred Alvarado, National Capital Region local, with tears of happiness in his eyes. “I missed the first one by a day and am so proud to have experienced it finally.”
Col. Larry H Lang, U.S. Air Force Band commander, let approximately 150 band and honor guard members from the 11th Operations Group in musical arrangements of holiday classics “Dona Nobis Pacem” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
It may seem like an effortless execution to audience members, but it takes months to prepare for the spontaneous performance.
The band prepares the musical arrangements months before the actual performance. The music is passed to the band members for a read-through before rehearsals begin to fine-tune the rendition. The fourth and final rehearsal occurs on the day of the event, only hours before the final performance.
“I love having a chance to work with all the other performing units,” said Master Sgt. Joe Haughton, tenor vocalist. “Even though we work side by side in the building, it’s rare to see them all perform [together].”
The flash mob began when Master Sgt. Benjamin Park, baritone vocalist, began singing on the second floor of the atrium in the Gaylord, and followed with multiple facets of the band joining in until they were working together in harmony.
“Getting to participate in this complex musical product and watching its evolution each year has been fascinating and humbling for me,” Park said.
About halfway through the performance, dancers from the Boesler Irish School of Dance, synchronizing their movements not only with the music but also with the Gaylord’s holiday lights and fountain, joined the band.
“The 2017 Holiday Flash Mob was amazing,” said Col. E. John Teichert, commander of Joint Base Andrews and the 11th Wing. “I was blown away by the creativity and professionalism of the band in a classic display of their soft power. As much as I enjoyed watching the performance, I loved watching the surprise, awe, appreciation and joy on the faces of those who were fortunate enough to see it unfold.”
Watch the performance here.