Photo (by Fred Kroner): Zaidah Balbuena, 10, left, and Journey Alexander, soon to be 8, participate in the Flashmob Reading on Friday, July 14 at Yo Yo’s Frozen Yogurt.
This was one marathon which allowed participants to turn the page and move ahead at their own speed.
No one finished out of breath or sweating, but instead shared a genuine feel-good sense of accomplishment.
When a Flashmob Reading Group gathered last Friday at Yo Yo’s Frozen Yogurt, they did so to finish a race that was unique.
Instead of running, the intent was to cram 26.2 hours worth of reading into a two-hour, late afternoon period.
The activity was sponsored by the Mahomet Public Library, and librarian Neal Schlein was one of the adult readers.
Since it was a first-time event, Schlein said, “I had no clue what to expect, but halfway through, people were still showing up,”
He estimated that 30 participants (children or adult readers) were involved during the first hour. Stories were read both inside and outside.
Schlein’s book of choice to read was “Best Frints in the Whole Universe,” by Antoinette Portis.
To keep the rapt attention of the children, he continually changed the inflection of his voice and altered his facial expressions.
“This book is a good one for a wide age range,” Schlein said. “It has a lot of silly words (such as ‘frints’), but a nice message about friendship.”
The impromptu reading program isn’t what drew Mahomet’s Erica Munro and her family to Yo Yo’s on an afternoon when the temperature reached the mid 80s.
“We wanted to try the new place and see what we thought,” Munro said. “We didn’t know this was happening, but decided to stay.Books are very important.”
Books are very important.”
Her initial review was positive.
“Both were very good,” Munro said.
Recently retired Sangamon Elementary School principal Mark Cabutti spent time reading to the children.
“The public library has partnered with us for so many summer reading programs, it was the least I could do to say ‘thank you’ for all they’ve done,” Cabutti said, “and I got to see some former students.”
Cabutti read a Dr. Seuss book, “Oh The Places You Will Go,” which he considered appropriate even though it wasn’t one he had read to his own daughters.
“It was a good choice for me because I had received that book from the staff at the end of the year, and they had all signed it and put in a message,” Cabutti said. “A lot of students brought the book to me (from their own home libraries) to put a message in for them.”
Yo Yo’s co-owner Alice Pommier said it was an easy decision to agree to have the building available for the Flashmob Reading Group.
“It was a community event, and we support community activities,” Pommier said. “We have the space.”
For some of the visitors, the afternoon represented a double treat.
As three-year-old Sasha Fairchild listened to Schlein’s reading, she was taking bites of a frozen yogurt treat.
The final tally, according to Schlein, showed 49 participants and 51.1 hours of reading during the 2 hours, which nearly doubled the original goal of 26.2 hours of reading.
It was a race with a quick pace.
Fred Kroner, who covered sports for the News Gazette until his retirement in 2016, is now the editor of the Mahomet Citizen. Fred, who grew up in Mahomet, enjoys spending time with his wife, who also recently opened Lucky Moon Pies and More.