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Murder mystery (10/31/2012)
By Sarah Squires
When I was a kid, we didn’t have the game Clue, so any chance I had to play it was always accompanied by the excitement of a sleep-over or other fun adventure away from home. Figuring out “whodunit” usually came with other rare treats like scary movies (also not seen at home), and Kool Aid. (Mom was not in favor of foods based on sugar and food coloring.)

Maybe it is due to my background, but when I was given the opportunity to take part in a live-action game of Clue, I jumped at the chance. For this event, a fundraiser for the Elder Network, people gathered at Watkins Manor under the beautiful vaulted ceiling of the Great Hall. Actors and actresses explained that we were all gathered for a big party hosted by Ole Svenson (actor Randy Torgeson). Ole had been an unsuccessful farmer from the hill country until one day, while shooting at a skunk, he missed. His bullet hit the ground, which unleashed a torrent of crude oil spurting from the opening, and the discovery of oil on his land made him a millionaire.

I brought my good friend Lexi along for this, since she has always been an excellent sleuth sidekick. We chatted with all the actors and actresses for a while. (Our favorite was played by Cheryl Finnegan—Ms. Fandango—a Norwegian opera singer who would occasionally lose her voice, and who proved very knowledgeable in the way of gossip about the other party-goers.) Shortly thereafter, we learned that someone had been murdered in the basement, and the mystery began.

On the off chance that this murder mystery will be relived again at another venue, I will refrain from giving away the ending. But I will say that the evening was wonderful. Lexi and I spent the night enjoying all kinds of dessert goodies and walking around the Great Hall trying to piece the clues together. The actors and actresses put on a great show, responding to our impromptu questions and mingling with attendees. I can imagine that acting in this way is often much harder than a completely scripted performance, especially when you have several off-duty police officers and at least one reporter who likes to add “investigative” to her title when she has a chance to pepper you with questions. Poor Ole had to deal with queries about his romantic life, as well, as it seemed pertinent to the mystery at hand. And every time attendees got off the topic, it seemed, the alluring Ms. Jane Hasherway (played by Jan Hoag) not so surreptitiously would pinch his rear!

Not only was “A High Society Murder Mystery” a terrific time, but it was for a great cause. The event helped raise money for Winona’s Elder Network, a nonprofit that assists area seniors in numerous ways. It’s a cause that is close to my heart, because I worked with seniors for years when I was younger. If you’d like to find out more about it, visit www.elder-network.org. The murder mystery event is an annual fundraiser, so make sure to check it out next year to test your detective skills and support a worthy cause.



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