It might not be bikini season, but that didn’t stop Jerry Veldhuis from emerging from the change room wearing only a tiny two-piece bathing suit.
Roaring with laughter, his teammate snapped a photo and posted it to her Facebook page. If they were going to win, they’d win with flair.
“It was very disturbing, but it was a lot of fun,” he says. “We knew we were going to win because we got all the points.”
The Viking Pillagers, which Veldhuis was a member of, was one of 14 teams that won the Escape St. Albert challenge on Nov. 4. More than 400 people participated in the competition that sent them to businesses across the city.
“I knew we had to play,” he says. “It was great getting together with friends.”
Each business served as a checkpoint where players would have to complete a challenge for a clue. The clue would then reveal their next location in the city, similar to an amazing race challenge.
Additional challenges, such as hug a stranger and take a photo of a ladder, earned each team extra bonus points.
A total of 20 businesses participated in the event. Jeff Baker, organizer of St. Albert Escape, says he designed the city-wide challenge as a way to promote local businesses.
“In the back end it’s putting 400 people through the door of a small business that they could potentially never have gone through before,” he says.
Baker started his business, Simulation Events Inc., four years ago with colleague Sabrina Powers.
Simulation Events Inc. specializes in large-scale events. While this is the first Escape challenge they’ve created, the company is known for its zombie apocalypse events.
“It’s called The Dead Landz, where people dress up as zombies and everyone hides. It’s obviously not for everyone and we can only do it outside, so we were looking to create an event that we could also put on during the winter,” he says.
They’ve hosted events at popular venues, such as K-Days and West Edmonton Mall. The business plans to host another Escape St. Albert next fall.
Baker says Simulation Events Inc. is unique in that it doesn’t have a storefront location. Instead they keep all their props in storage between events.
Heather Wolsey, owner of Seasons Gift Shop located on McKenney Ave, says the business was excited to have more than 400 people come through the doors of her store on Saturday.
“It was great,” she says. “The event increased our access to customers, lots of people said they would be back to do some shopping.”
Each of the challenges was created by the participating businesses. At the gift shop players had to find a toy monkey and take a photo of it. Wolsey says the first team tried to outplay their competitors.
“They wanted to buy her out,” she laughs. “So we let them purchase one but we held onto the last Maddie Monkey.”
Laura Oladokun, owner of Sweet Boutique, says the challenge helped her business get some recognition in the community.
“We moved to a new location off the beaten track, so a lot of people didn’t know about us. Lots of people came through that hadn’t been here before,” she says. “I’m expecting that we should see some new faces in here.”
Over 250 people come through the doors on Saturday. She says the word “boutique” in the clothing store’s name often confuses people, so the challenge helped promote what her business is about.
“Sometimes people think we’re candy or a bakery, so even them just walking in the door and seeing that it’s a ladies clothing store, that’ll be in their mind the next time they’re shopping,” she says.
Both the owners of the gift shop and the clothing store say they’re interested in participating in the challenge next year.
For more information about Escape St. Albert visit their website: www.simulationevents.com.