PARIS — Do you escape by breaking out like a gladiator? Or do you find a way through a labyrinth, perhaps encountering David Bowie in the process?

It is an escape room. A place for teamwork. A place where members work together using logic, observation and puzzle-solving skills to find freedom.

“(Players should) be observant, look around, try to find the clues,” coordinator Brent Gammon said.

In a CIA operative-style room with multiple television monitors, Deering Community Center volunteers Joy Johnson, Randy Johnson, Jennifer Gammon and Brent Gammon watched as the Carleton family, ranging in age from 13 to 25, made sense of puzzles and clues, each bringing them a step closer to escape.

“There are clues in each room that let them open locks,” Brent Gammon said.

For example, one lock was color-coded, and finding those numbers were associated with colored items in the room.

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This was the first time the Carleton family had been in an escape room.

“They’re struggling,” Joy Johnson said. “But once you start to do them, you start recognizing patterns when you walk into a room.”

The scenario: It is New Year’s morning and participants awake in their hotel room to discover they are wanted for questioning by police. They have 45 minutes to prove their whereabouts between 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve and 5 a.m. New Year’s Day by collecting receipts and other items.

A misconception of escape rooms is that participants are locked in.

“You come out the door you went in,” Jennifer Gammon said. “It’s never locked.”

The volunteers got the idea by participating at profitable escape rooms, which have been in New England for several years, according to Joy Johnson, who is also an employee of the Paris Public Library, which oversees the community center.

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The four spent months designing and constructing this escape room, which consisted of multiple rooms, including a hotel room and casino.

The event is family-friendly, and participants thus far have included families, friends and even employees of a nearby dental office, who used the challenge as a team-building event. The minimum number of participants is two and the maximum eight. The challenge is ideal for four people.

As the volunteers watch participants on monitors, they can offer clues depending on the skill levels of those participating.

The volunteers coordinated an escape room last summer as well, collecting $1,235 for the center, and the volunteers hope the event can offset the building’s base expenses, which are about $9,000 annually, according to Randy Johnson.

The escape room fundraiser will continue through Jan. 1, excluding Christmas Day. Hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and New Year’s Day.

Reservations are required by contacting the library 207-743-6994 during business hours or by contacting library director Mike Dignan at 207-312-7120. Reservations may also be made by emailing [email protected]

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The cost is $15 per person.

The Deering Memorial United Methodist Church building at 39 Main St. was donated to the Paris Public Library in 2017 by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church. Proceeds raised from the escape room fundraiser will help cover the buiklding’s operating costs.

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Brent Gammon watches from behind the scenes Saturday as the Carleton family tries to brainstorm their way out of the escape room in Paris. The event is a fundraiser for Deering Communty Center. (Sun Journal photo by Abigail Austin)

Family members Heather, Michael and Jesse Carleton of Paris read the final clue Saturday to unlock their jail cell and complete the escape room challenge. The escape room fundraiser was hosted by the Deering Community Center in Paris. Groups of two to eight may take the challenge, which is open to the public through Jan. 1. (Sun Journal photo by Abigail Austin)

 


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