A surprise sweet 16 took place on the subway. It showed humanity at its best.

'Can strangers in a subway car come together and have a party?'

Addie Weyrich wanted to do something spectacular for her friend Jenny Gorelick's sweet 16.

So she decided to throw Gorelick a surprise party — on a New York City subway train.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.


Sporting a bright red dress and a whole lot of anxious enthusiasm, Weyrich informed passengers of New York City's Q train about what was about to happen.

"Jenny loves the subway," she announces to curious and confused riders in the video below. "She loves it so much that we thought we would throw her a surprise birthday party — right here, on this subway car."

She then asked riders if they'd help her pull it off.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

"She does not know this is happening," Weyrich explained to the passengers. "She thinks she's going to a completely different birthday party. She's going to come on at 57th Street — our friend, Sam, is there; she's going to make sure she's getting on this car exactly."

Fortunately — and maybe surprisingly if you think the cold New Yorker stereotype is true — most of the subway riders were more than happy to help pull it off.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

When it was time for Gorelick to step on board, the surprise went perfectly.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

The subway strangers seemed just as elated as Gorelick to celebrate her big 1-6.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

Here's the real surprise, though: Gorelick's birthday party ... wasn't a real birthday party.

Addie Weyrich is an actor. So is Gorelick.

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

Weyrich and Gorelick are part of the team at Improv Everywhere — a comedy group that produces spur-of-the-moment performances to get public reactions.

You can watch the video of the whole event here:

If you think that knowing it was staged might take away some of the magic of the sweet 16 party, you'd be wrong.

Though the birthday component of the performance was fake, the excitement, enthusiasm, and camaraderie of the subway riders — who were not in on the joke — certainly wasn't. And that was the point.

"The real intent behind this stunt was to see if we could get an assortment of random commuters to play along," Charlie Todd, who created and directed the event, wrote about the experiment. "Can strangers in a subway car come together and have a party?"

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

The answer, clearly, is yes.

Improv Everywhere orchestrated a number of the parties throughout the day. According to Todd, while not everyone on board was up for the surprise, about 80% of the riders helped out in some way when given the opportunity.

"The best part of the experience was the smiles, laughs, and hugs from complete strangers," Todd wrote. "I’ll never get tired of seeing people from all different walks of life come together to do something fun on a subway car."

Photo by Ari Scott for improveverywhere.com.

The performance by Improv Everywhere feels like a breath of fresh air in today's tumultuous times. Lately it can feel like everyone is helplessly divided; like the ties to our communities and neighbors are nonexistent, and we're all growing more detached.

That's simply not the case, and the helpful, smiley strangers that pulled off Jenny's 16th birthday are proof of it.

"Even if the set up was staged, the party was real," Todd wrote. "And it was a blast!"

More
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular