Hokey Pokey dance party — Prairie village woman’s unique 93rd birthday celebration garners national attention

Phyllis Brinkerhoff

Prairie Village neighbors celebrated Phyllis Brinkerhoff's, above, 93rd birthday with a Hokey Pokey flash mob on Aug. 17. Just 10 days later, the gesture was featured on national television. Photo credit Greg Peters.

One Prairie Village resident’s obsession with the Hokey Pokey recently caught some national attention.

Phyllis Brinkerhoff 93rd birthday
Melanie (right) and Meredith Mendrys (left) organized a Hokey Pokey flash mob for this Prairie Village neighborhood’s “grandma,” Phyllis Brinkerhoff (center). It landed them on CBS News 10 days later. Photo credit Greg Peters.

Phyllis Brinkerhoff, 93, loves the Hokey Pokey dance song — so much so that she gave her neighbor, Melanie Mendrys, a Hokey Pokey CD in June.

Brinkerhoff, who has lived in Prairie Village for 50 years and is known as “Mrs. B” to her neighbors, told Mendrys she and her daughter Meredith would be great at “leading the neighborhood in the Hokey Pokey” dance.

An idea was born.

And though the summer got busy, Mendrys gave herself a deadline of hosting a Hokey Pokey dance party on Mrs. B’s 93rd birthday on Aug. 17.

Mendrys and her daughter delivered handmade invitations around their neighborhood, saying “it will only take three minutes of your time to make a neighbor’s day.”

On Brinkerhoff’s birthday, about 20 people showed up in her front yard near 67th and Roe.

Mendrys said she didn’t expect that turnout, and she definitely didn’t expect the gesture to be featured on the nationally televised CBS “Sunday Morning” show.

Hokey Pokey flash mob
About 20 neighbors showed up to Phyllis Brinkerhoff’s birthday flash mob on Aug. 17 — just one day after receiving a handmade invitation. Photo credit Greg Peters.

“I honestly think part of the reason people are so touched by it is not just because Mrs. B is an incredible woman, but wow, the news that preceded it,” Mendrys said. “We’re in a time of war and conflict and wildfires and hurricanes and murder hornets, and I think everyone needs a little Hokey Pokey.”

During the Hokey Pokey flash mob, as it came to be known, Mendrys said Brinkerhoff was surprised to see everyone in her front yard dancing.

Mendrys recalls that Brinkerhoff kept saying, “We have such great neighbors.”

Mendrys said Brinkerhoff approaches life with the philosophy of “one foot in front of the other with a smile on my face.” I

t’s that mentality that makes Brinkerhoff a joy in her Prairie Village neighborhood, Mendrys said.

“She’s like our neighborhood grandma who sits on her front porch and whistles at you when you walk by to come up and say hello,” Mendrys said. “I think [Brinkerhoff is] just seeing how important that is.”

Footage of the flash mob is featured in the CBS News story, here, or below on a CBS News Facebook post.