While Gilley’s is known for concerts and partying hardy, on Saturday, January 25, it was “game’s on!” for the 10th Annual Great Adventure Hunt benefiting ChildCareGroup. While the cause was serious, the turnout of “Hunters” laughed and scratched heads in solving the variety of puzzles. Here’s a report from the field:
ChildCareGroup CEO Tori Mannes and the “sister act” of Co-Chairs Macey Davis and Meredith Wallace kicked off the evening with remarks about the importance of early childhood care and education and ChildCareGroup’s two generation approach to helping not only the children they educate and care for, but their families as well. Heartfelt first-hand stories told by families ChildCareGroup serves were shown during a healthy, wholesome family-style meal intentionally designed to replicate the kind of family-style meals ChildCareGroup children enjoy together every day with their teachers.
“Why spend your evening and brain power to join our Hunt on a Saturday night? Because high quality, early childhood education can make a big difference for the 31% of Dallas kids who live in poverty,” said Tori. “And why these fun, wacky puzzles? Because we know that children learn through play, and at the Great Adventure Hunt, adults can support the mission of educating children through play.”
Before embarking on the hunt, Bids for Kids rolled out to guests who bid anywhere from $50 to $2,500 to purchase tricycles, art supplies, classroom “calm down corners”, teacher training and supplies, and bilingual classrooms at ChildCareGroup.
The Great Adventure Hunt was a complete take-over of Gilley’s 92,000 square feet, as the facility was transformed into the mythical ‘old West’ town of ‘CCGville.’ Teams of 6 (called ‘Hunters’ in Great Adventure Hunt parlance) were given a bank bag filled with assorted items, including a map of CCGville that was a guide to the puzzles, located on both floors, in 8 rooms, and on the 2nd floor patio. Hunters definitely got in their steps, as well as the downtown Dallas views, during this event.
Eight rooms were both decorated and staffed to reflect this year’s Wild West theme. “Miss Beadle”, the nurturing teacher from Little House on the Prairie, presided over the single-room Walnut Grove schoolhouse, where Hunters encountered a puzzle involving simple addition. The Sheriff’s Office includes a jail cell and puzzles located on a series of “Wanted” posters. Outside on the patio, Hunters had to use the Morse Code to solve the puzzle mounted atop a 20’ high inflatable Texas longhorn.
Throughout the venue, teams were spotted huddled together in the Speakeasy, the Poker Room, the Dance Hall and other rooms trying to solve the puzzles. Texas State Representative, District 1023 Rafael Anchia and Macey Davis were spotted saddling up to the Saloon bar sampling the event’s signature cocktail, the Texas Twist. Lyda Hill and Jack Matthews, part of separate and competing teams, were so focused on the event, they could barely be bothered for photos.
Following the competition, Hunters relaxed while waiting for the Puzzle Pros, Joe Mannes and John Harris, to explain the puzzles solutions and learn the winners. The explanation of each puzzle was accompanied by considerable cheering or booing by the teams of Hunters, depending on whether or not they solved that puzzle correctly.
Prizes were awarded for Best Team Name (The “Silver Bone Spurs” aka Steckler, Gresham, Cochran law firm), Best Rookie Team (team members Drew and Kristen Brantley, Sarah and Clayton Kennington and Elizabeth and Patrick Malone), 3rd, 2nd and 1st. In the end, two-time winner, the Matthews Southwest Team (“How the Matthews Southwest Was Won” team members Anne Bothwell, John Matthews, Charles Glover, Ben Mackey, Kat Matthews and Melanie Ferguson) prevailed again, answering all the puzzles correctly in the shortest time, narrowly defeating teams from United Way (team members Kate and Alex Knight, Emily and Nick Barker and Jessica and Bryan Farrington), Thompson And Knight (team members John Cohn, Aaron Powell, Andrew Mearsheimer, Sydney Collier and TJ Rauner) and Lyda Hill’s legendary “Team Enigma”.
Regardless of how many puzzles they solved, all the Hunters seemed to enjoy their visit to CCGville and agreed that The Great Adventure Hunt is indeed, one of Dallas’ most unique and fun fundraisers!