By Joyce DeWallace Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – When Kelsey Reilly, a sophomore at Shrewsbury High School, started planning her 16th birthday party, she decided that she didn's want to be like everyone else. She wanted something unique, something very special, and something that would be lots of fun.
“Right now, dances are very popular,” Kelsey said. “A couple of my friends have rented halls with DJ's. Some even had elaborate themes like Hollywood night with a red-and-black color scheme.”
Going into Boston in a limo, then shopping and eating at Faneuil Hall is another popular type of celebration. Other 16-year-olds have commemorated their special day by going to the movies and eating pizza or having sleepovers with girlfriends.
But Kelsey envisioned a different activity.
“A family friend had gone on a scavenger hunt with a group of their acquaintances and loved it,” Kelsey said. “My mom and I decided it would be a really fun 16th birthday party.”
Over Christmas vacation, the two researched scavenger hunts on the Internet. They went to several websites and tweaked the ideas they found to suit their needs. They made lists; they talked about tasks that needed to be done; and developed the party and its theme. Then they set up a timeline, figured out whom to invite, and decided what food should be served. Then they shopped for bandanas, necklaces, leis, feather boas, oven mitts and tiaras to be used as costumes for the event. After developing the rules and typing up 33 detailed instructions of what to find, collect or photograph, they were ready.
On the night of the party, the girls gathered at the Reilly house at 5:30 p.m. They were assigned to one of three teams based on color – yellow, blue and green. Each girl had to wear her team's color and at least one of the team's accessories. Armed with a certain amount of money, a designated driver, a detailed scavenger hunt list, and a clear explanation of what they could and couldn's do, the girls left at 6 p.m. to start their many tasks.
One of their assignments included finding a ketchup packet, Sweet-n-Low, a paper clip, and a 1990 penny – all at the same place. They also had to take pictures with, among other people, a cashier at a certain convenience store, with someone resembling a celebrity, with a teammate on top of a structure, with a mother pushing a baby cart, and with a teammate posing with any animal. The girls had to collect two business cards from different people and help someone carry groceries to their car. A team photographer recorded or “videoed” the activities.
At 8 p.m., all the teams met for pizza and were back on the hunt a half-hour later.
“All the girls were laughing so much, but didn's tell the others what they still had to do or get,” Kelsey said. “They kept the secret through the meal.”
The girls had a number of particularly challenging tasks. All the teams ran into trouble when they asked for the “beyond” section at Bed, Bath and Beyond and getting one Munchkin cut into five pieces at Dunkin” Donuts. But probably the hardest request for the yellow team was trying to get a picture of all five girls jumping with all their feet off the ground at the same time. The funniest mission? All the teams agreed – Christmas caroling in January at strangers” houses.
By 9:30 p.m., the girls reported back to the Reillys” home, where Christine Reilly, Kelsey's mother, and Christine's friend, Michele DePrez, verified the results, checking receipts, pictures and videos.
Christine was very happy with the teamwork, the camaraderie and the special meld of teenagers.
“It was fun to see these kids having such a good time. It was good, clean fun,” she said.
Afterward, the girls enjoyed the ice cream and cake associated with a more traditional party.
“It was the best party I'se ever been to,” one of the girls said.
“Everyone had a great time, and it was so much fun,” Kelsey said.