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Friday, April 18, 2014

Board game fundraiser anything but boring


The currency of my childhood was pink, green and yellow. I saved it up to buy coveted property like Park Place and Boardwalk, which I'd populate with red and green plastic houses.

I oddly identified with top hats, thimbles and Scottie dogs, and nothing was more satisfying than sending my sister directly to jail. (Do Not Pass Go.)

Monopoly, said to be the most played board game in history, has played a prominent role in many a young person's snow days, summer breaks and Saturday afternoons.

The game also plays the main role in an ingenious 9-year-old local fundraiser — a Monopoly Tournament that will be staged Friday night at The Ville in St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 123 N. Andover Road in Andover.

The event is put on by The Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas as a fundraiser for its Compeer mentoring program, which partners volunteers with children suffering from emotional disorders.

It invites casual and serious Monopoly players to participate in a fast-paced version of the game, complete with an actual jail, real get-out-of-jail cards and a real-life Mr. Monopoly with top hat, coattails and handlebar mustache.

After dining and socializing, participants choose a table, already set up with a Monopoly game, and get to playing.

When a player lands on the infamous "Go To Jail" space, a bell is rung and a uniformed member of the Andover Police Department escorts the player to a jail cell set up in the room, where they remain until they purchase a "Get Out of Jail" card. (It's all in the name of fundraising, after all.)

Those who land on "Free Parking" are allowed to pick a prize from a prize table.

After an hour of play, the winner gets $150. Second place gets $100.

Game play gets pretty intense, said Connie Fahrbach, the association's director of development. Some players are so into the game that they refuse to sit down, and their efforts to get out of jail get increasingly desperate.

"This is not your sit-around-the-coffee-table game," she said. "It's a go-get-'em kind of deal. Everyone who's ever attended leaves going, 'Oh, wow, that was so fun.' "

The event works on a number of levels, said Patty Gnefkow.

For one, it gives fundraiser attendees something fun to do in between eating, sipping cocktails and socializing. And it awakens that competitive, board-game spirit buried deep in the grownup psyche.

Plus, everyone loves Monopoly, she said.

"I would say if you polled most American families, they played Monopoly," she said. "It brings back a lot of memories of good times."

If you go

Ninth Annual Monopoly Tournament

What: A fundraiser that includes dinner, drinks, a live and silent auction and a fast-paced Monopoly tournament. It's open to players age 21 and over.

Where: The Ville, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 123 N. Andover Road, Andover

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

How much: Tickets are $65, available by calling 316-685-1821, ext. 223.

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