Union Station at rush hour scene of latest Closer to Free campaign

The acoustics at New Haven's Union Station amplified the voices of the singers performing Closer to Free at rush hour on one of the busiest travel days of the year. After the filming, singers, dancers and onlookers mingled with Smilow Cancer Hospital physicians, nurses, staff and cancer survivors, who carried signs with the name of the cancer they were fighting.
The acoustics at New Haven's Union Station amplified the voices of the singers performing Closer to Free at rush hour on one of the busiest travel days of the year. After the filming, singers, dancers and onlookers mingled with Smilow Cancer Hospital physicians, nurses, staff and cancer survivors, who carried signs with the name of the cancer they were fighting.

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving — the second busiest travel day of the year — Yale-New Haven Hospital orchestrated a flash mob of dancers and singers who performed live in Union Station for a new Closer to Free ad campaign that supports Smilow Cancer Hospital.

A production company set up five cameras on the floor and two on the balcony overlooking the busy New Haven train station. A choir of 40 students from Norwalk and 25 professional dancers had been practicing Closer to Free for weeks.

Finally, the performers joined YNHH doctors, nurses, staff, and cancer survivors at rush hour as commuters and travelers hurried through the busy transportation hub. At 4:45 p.m., the cameras started to roll.

See the Flash Mob videos >

Onlookers quickly realized they were part of a flash mob. Some started singing, others recorded the performance on cellphones as it unfolded and some tweeted what they were witnessing.

"We've heard that Closer to Free inspires patients who come to Smilow Cancer Hospital for their care," said Thomas Lynch, physician-in-chief, Smilow Cancer Hospital. "This commercial based on the live, spontaneous event at Union Station helps draw attention to our mission of advancing cancer research and enhancing patient care."

The hospital has created 30- and 60-second commercials which debuted during the Super Bowl pre-game and ran during the game. The ads and other companion videos are available on closertofree.com.

"Being part of this filming was an unforgettable experience," said Tara Sanft, MD, medical director, Adult Survivorship, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, and assistant professor, Medicine (Medical Oncology), Yale School of Medicine. "It was so moving to hear Closer to Free being sung live in Union Station, watch the dancers perform and to be surrounded by cancer survivors and some of the talented staff who care for them. I am so proud of the work we do for patients at Smilow."