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Flashmob video to entice WestJet unveiled

Penticton is going to have some new internet stars, including its mayor, thanks to a video of the WestJet flash mob that went live Monday.

Posting the video on YouTube of the March 10 dance mob at the Penticton airport completes the circle of social media organizers have been building on for both this event and the extended campaign to bring WestJet Airlines to Penticton.

The video of the event, with students from Okanagan Dance Studios leading 643 people in a dance on the airport tarmac on a cold windy day — including Mayor Dan Ashton, several city councillors and staff — can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/penwestjet.

The next step in the social media campaign is for everyone to spread the word about the video, according to Barb Haynes, one of the event organizers.

Since early February, when WestJet announced they were considering a new regional airline, a community group wanting WestJet to consider including Penticton as one of the stops has been making heavy use of social media to get the message out.

But the numbers from the March 10 event are staggering, according to Haynes, executive director for the Downtown Penticton Association. One of her staff was kept busy posting pictures and messages throughout the event,

“We had over 25,000 posts and reposts,” said Haynes. “We had about 188,000 impressions on social media, which equates to about 30,000 people physically being touched by that event.”

One photo, a group picture taken at the end of the event, was viewed more than 11,000 times after being posted.

“That one got posted on the WestJet site, for another 8,300 views,” said Haynes. “Our site actually trended in B.C. for about four hours.”

Couns. Andrew Jakubeit, who was part of the crew filming the event thinks it will leave a lasting impression with the WestJet executives.

“I think that’s what helps separate Penticton from the rest of the pack when it comes time for them to consider,” said Jakubeit.

While the majority of participants came from Penticton, Haynes said there was great representation from across the South Okanagan and even some from farther north.

“We had some individuals coming from West Kelowna, who would like to prefer to have WestJet here in Penticton because it is easier for them to fly out of Penticton than Kelowna,” said Haynes.

Mayor Dan Ashton also challenged Jazz, the regional carrier currently flying out of Penticton airport to expand their service and add a Calgary connection.

“Jazz has provided impeccable service to Penticton with their airline, however it has been their choice to say whether or not an east connection should be part of it,” said Ashton.

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