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News Story: Mannequin Challenge

A fist fight recorded on a cell phone, a piggyback ride and a dance battle.

These scenes were recorded in Turlington Plaza on Wednesday.

Students at the University of Florida were participating in the Mannequin Challenge, a recent social media trend that requires groups of participants to strike a dramatic pose, freeze in place and channel their inner mannequins as one person walks through the scene to videotape it.

Most videos are set to the song “Black Beatles” by hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd.

The first recorded mannequin challenge video was posted on Twitter in late October by students at Edward H. White High School in Jacksonville, according to CNN.

Since then, thousands of groups have taken the challenge.

Chelsea Ogugua, a 22-year-old UF telecommunication senior, said she wanted the University of Florida to be one of them.

“The second I found this challenge,” Ogugua said, “I thought to myself, ‘Oh man, there is no question about it. I’m bringing this thing to UF.’”

Ogugua said she created a Facebook event on a whim on Sunday.

The UF Mannequin Challenge was set for noon on Wednesday.

By Tuesday, 180 people said they would attend.

“It caught like wildfire and people were commenting things like ‘FINALLY!’ and ‘I’ve prepared my entire life for this,’” Ogugua said. “I was honestly a little shocked that people were so excited to freeze in place for 10 minutes.”

At 11:50 a.m. on Wednesday, Ogugua arrived at Turlington Plaza and waited.

At 11:58 a.m., Ogugua said only one person was there.

At noon, Ogugua said about 70 people showed up at once.

“I have no words to describe how nervous I was when literally one person was there,” Ogugua said. “I was sweating bullets and thought the entire event was going to be a major flop. You can’t exactly do the challenge with one mannequin.”

That “one mannequin” was Rodel Enderez, a 21-year-old UF chemical engineering junior.

“I was only two minutes early and nobody was there,” Enderez said. “I felt terrible but I decided to leave for Krishna lunch. I didn’t want to be that guy.”

Enderez said he assumed no one would come.

When he saw the giant crowd forming in Turlington Plaza, Enderez said he dropped his plate of food on a nearby bench and ran to the scene.

Some students brought props for their poses: hammocks, bikes, newspapers, boxes of donuts and even leftovers from lunch at Chick-Fil-A.

Enderez said he did not bring a prop or plan a pose, but he decided on a piggyback ride pose after finding a friend in the crowd.

“I just jumped onto his back without warning,” Enderez said. “Looking back, I probably should have warned him.”

Ogugua said she recorded three videos with her camera.

She said the event went off without a hitch -- except for one student who walked through the scene, recording it on his phone, during each take.

“I tried to blur his face out because I didn’t want to give him a spotlight,” she said. “But with or without him, it’s still an excellent video.”

The video is now posted on YouTube, Ogugua said.

But Ogugua is not the first person to bring the Mannequin Challenge to UF.

A few organizations on campus have taken the challenge.

Robert Portugues, a 21-year-old UF architecture senior, said he brought the challenge to his fraternity, Lambda Theta Phi.

“I knew this was going to be the next Harlem Shake the second I saw it,” Portugues said. “It’s another hilarious internet meme that I knew we had to be a part of.”

He said they were lucky -- they recorded the video in one take.

Portugues said members of his fraternity filmed the challenge in a Turlington classroom, posted it on Facebook and challenged other UF fraternities and sororities to do the same.

That challenge was accepted by the members of Omega Delta Phi fraternity.

Dominique Lindsey-Gonzalez, a 20-year-old UF sustainability studies senior, said his fraternity will do the Mannequin Challenge on Sunday -- with a twist.

“If someone clicks into our video,” Lindsey-Gonzalez said, “they’re not just going to see a bunch of people standing still. They’re going to see something that makes them think.”

Lindsey-Gonzalez said that he plans to incorporate a political element into their video in response to the presidential election.

But their video will not be without humor.

Anthony Black, a 21-year-old UF health science senior, said he will be eating chicken nuggets no matter what direction the other fraternity members go in.

“I held a squat in my other Mannequin Challenge,” Black said. “Never again.”

Elle Beecher