By Darwin Manning
On Friday, November 30, the town of Grinnell will be taking to the streets in a dizzying fashion and displaying the many gems that exist around the Jewel of the Prairie. Teams of two to four people will participate in Grinnell’s second Amazing Chase, the first appearing as an addition to the Grinnell Games last June. This holiday edition of the hit television show will have participants following clues and answering riddles at twelve to twenty businesses that can range from restaurants to flower shops.
In the first chase there were 32 teams, and the organizers at the Chamber of Commerce are hoping to improve upon that and attract even more residents and out-of-town folks. This is an event that has caught on in several towns of Grinnell’s size and some cities, but Grinnell hopes to make this a unique event for this region of Iowa. The rules are fairly flexible and the majority of the test requires cracking riddles, which allows for non-residents to participate as well.
“It’s all about having fun and using the resources to the best of your ability,” said Emily Schmitt Counts, Communications Manager at the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce. “This encourages people to just ask random folks on the street. The first time we had people who were not from Grinnell try it out and they did fine.”
The strategy that each team implements in following the clues can vary significantly, and this allows for a very engaging process. Counts explained that each team is handed an envelope with clues at the beginning and are then given two hours to complete as many as they can.
“Some teams went to the coffee shop and solved them all first, while others just picked one up and ran,” Counts said.
The Chamber of Commerce hopes that these events will promote more awareness of all the great businesses available in Grinnell and lead to an increase in foot traffic. At each new destination, staying true to the show, the team will have a challenge to complete before they head to the next stop. These will range widely but the majority of the challenges will entail some level of photography.
“Once they get to a business they will have a challenge like having to get everyone to wear a crazy hat in the store, or at the decorating store having to find a pace watch against a wall,” Counts said.
Counts and the rest of the team are still working out the route. Like the race in June, the new route will include a diverse group of Grinnell establishments. The prizes include 300 Chamber Bucks for 1st place, 200 for 2nd and 100 for 3rd. The one penalty that teams can accrue is for an incomplete challenge, for which thirty seconds would be added to their time. Additionally, participants should be aware they will need a camera for documentation after completion of a challenge, a small amount of money (less than $5) and that festive attire is encouraged.
“Teams will be encouraged to dress up in the most hilarious holiday clothes they can find, either ugliest holiday sweaters or festive matching/themed costumes. This will truly be a friendly and fun family event,” Counts said. The Chamber has partnered with the Student Division to subsidize registration fees for students to participate. There will also be a list of separate prizes for students, so all are encouraged to participate.