MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Cooped up for days due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Mahopac families have found a way to beat the cabin fever. They go hunting.
Actually, they hunt for objects and landmarks as part of a town-wide scavenger hunt. It’s been a way to get out of the house, have some competitive fun, all while maintaining the necessary social distancing.
The game was the brainchild of Eric and Vicki Luczkowski who have three kids who have a lot of pent-up energy.
“We organized the socially distant Around Our Town Scavenger Hunt and had the first one on Sunday, March 22,” Vicki Luczkowski said.
About 40 families took part.
“We originally designed it for our kids to get them out of the house and off their electronics in a way that was safe during the pandemic,” she said. “I mentioned it to a few friends who then wanted to join. They mentioned it to a few others and before we knew it, we had 40 families participating. No one had to leave their own cars—they only had to take a selfie with the objects as they found them and text them to me, so I could check them off my list. The first family to post a picture of each item was the winner.”
Some items on the list included a statue of a historic figure, a tombstone, a pizza place not named after a person, someone on a bike, a boat and an out-of-state license plate.
“It was an awesome time. Parents said they haven’t seen their kids smile this much since school was put on hold,” Luczkowski said. “And I think the parents may have had more fun than the kids.”
A second game was slated for this past Sunday, March 29, and about 80 families expressed interest in taking part. Unfortunately, inclement weather put a damper on the proceedings; still, more than 50 families took part.
For the second hunt, instead of tracking down objects and landmarks, players had to solve clues such as: “Add the jersey numbers of the 2017 14u Summer League Champions together (Jimmy McDonough Park),” and “What is the fine for smoking at Town of Carmel parks and beaches?”
Avery Pryzmilski, 15, a 10th grader at Mahopac High School, said the scavenger hunts were just the antidote she needed for her quarantine-induced cabin fever.
“It was really fun to get out and compete with friends,” she said. “Just driving past and waving to my friends was great. It was a great way to interact without really interacting. It was a really creative way to get all the families together. We are looking forward to doing it each week.”
She said the games were not only fun but educational as well.
“I didn’t know there were so many historical figures in Mahopac,” she said with a laugh.
For Marisa and Tim Donaghey, the hunts were a way to get their kids’ competitive instincts (ages 12, 10 and 6) back up and running. (Tim is the high school’s varsity hockey coach).
“Since we couldn’t go anywhere, we thought it was a good opportunity to get out and have some fun,” said Marisa Donaghey. “The kids were getting antsy and we needed to do something. This was a way to get their competitive juices flowing. We’ll absolutely take part in the rest [of the hunts]. It works for all ages. The grownups had a lot of fun doing it, too.”
Vicki Luczkowski, who is a middle school science teacher in Yorktown, credited her husband with creating the game.
“Eric said he would put it together, and he drove around town and found some really cool clues,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we could obey the social distancing rules.”
They spread the word through the Girl Scouts and then through Facebook and the idea caught on.
“My sister-in-law in Buffalo heard about it and is now doing it,” Luczkowski said. “It’s taking off, which is cool.”
They were scheduled to have another scavenger hunt last Sunday and then will hold what could be the final one this Saturday, April 11—the day before Easter. The theme, of course, will be an Easter egg hunt. “Eggs” will be placed around town and then clues will be given as to their location. The gamers must then find them and take a picture. The one with the most eggs wins.
“We might even create a Facebook group for it,” Luczkowski.
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