SIDNEY — Puzzlers, riddlers and people who love a challenge will have a new activity to jump into in January.

That’s when Samaritan Works Inc., the faith-based, nonprofit organization devoted to leading substance abusers to successful recovery, will host Race to Escape and open escape rooms in Sidney.

The escape room craze has taken the world by storm in recent years. Sidney’s rooms will be in the Parkwood School, 315 W. Russell Road, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in January.

Each room will have set pieces and props arranged in it that teams of players need to find clues they then use to solve a mystery within a one-hour time limit.

“It’s a series of puzzles you need to be able to complete,” said Samaritan Works Trustee Dr. Lisa Alvetro, chairwoman of the committee organizing the event.

There will be six rooms and three mysteries available in Sidney. Time slots can be reserved for Fridays, from 5 to 11 p.m.; Saturdays, from 12:30 to 11 p.m.; and Sundays, from 2 to 8 p.m. The rooms will also be open on Monday, Jan. 15, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Reservations can be made online at or by calling 937-638-4586. Admission will be $15 per person per mystery. Reservations are encouraged, but not required.

The mysteries are set in the wild west, an FBI safe house and a school.

In the Wild West Heist, the players become a band of highwaymen whose challenge is to break into the Temptress Saloon safe to steal a valuable diamond.

The FBI mystery, “FBI’s Most Wanted,” has players becoming FBI agents trying to find a kidnapper and the family he’s kidnapped.

In Crazy Teacher, players have to follow clues in science and history class lesson plans to rescue the school’s golden retriever mascot.

The scenarios were purchased from a Canadian firm, Escape Empire, which wrote the teacher one specifically for Sidney, because the rooms will be in a school.

Organizers said the games work for teams of all ages and all backgrounds. Families, teens and coworkers can all comprise teams.

“Companies can use it for team-building, and teams can challenge each other,” Alvetro said.

Samaritan Works Trustee Amy Clemons, also a committee member, said the Sidney Fire Department and the Sidney Police Department have already coordinated teams to see which department can claim bragging rights. A leaderboard, to be posted at the school and published weekly in the Sidney Daily News, will list results.

Teams are limited in size to eight people. Individuals who want to participate will be put into teams.

“There will be moderators in each room who can help, but if the moderator gives you a clue, it costs you time,” Alvetro said.

No cameras will be permitted in the rooms and participants will be asked to sign confidentiality clauses and not reveal secrets to potential participants. There will be a selfie station at the end of the activity.

Despite the term, “escape,” in the game’s name, “you’re not locked in. It’s the fun of the 60-minute challenge with your team trying to solve the mystery,” Clemons said.

The committee purchased scenarios, but had to acquire props and set pieces.

“We purchased things that we can repurpose,” Alvetro said. “And we’re hoping this can be a big enough hit that we can do it again.”

Cindy Couchot, community outreach coordinator at Samaritan Works, isn’t worried.

“Once we get it started, it’s going to take off. It’s contagious,” she said. Gift certificates are available now for holiday giving.

The organization hopes to raise $15,000. Sponsorships are still available at $250, $500 and $1,000 levels that include times in the rooms at the sponsors’ convenience, refreshments during the games and T-shirt recognition.

Volunteers are needed to help run the events. For sponsorship or volunteer information, call 937-638-4586.

Samaritan Works plans mystery fundraiser

By Patricia Ann Speelman

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.