‘Sweepstakes Murder Mystery’ unfolds in downtown Roswell, benefiting Wings for L.I.F.E. program
By Christina Stock
Wings for L.I.F.E. presents the “Sweepstakes Murder Mystery” event Sept. 27 and 28. Local actors and renowned business owners slip into the roles of detectives and suspects.
Ticket-holders are invited to join the party to find out who the culprit is, starting on Friday at the International UFO Museum And Research Center, 114 N. Main St., at 6 p.m. There are a limited number of tickets available and the organizers suggest getting tickets early. Heavy appetizers and refreshments are included.
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This event is a new concept and was created especially for Wings for L.I.F.E. by its executive director Shelly Currier and her daughter, Jenny Currier, who is a writer.
“Community involvement is very important to me,” Shelly Currier said. “When we had our special events, games and icebreakers were what I loved to do, and I found that even the people most resistant to them ended up having the best time.
“I wanted to do something different in Roswell,” Currier said. “There have been murder mystery plays; there were murder mysteries that were solved in one evening. I think too many times we passively watch these things. We go to the movies, we watch a mystery, we go to a mystery play and sit there and watch it unfold — or we see it on TV. We sometimes guess the ending, sometimes we don’t. The ‘Sweepstakes Murder Mystery’ puts you (the ticket-holder) in the spotlight. You can do as much or as little as you want to do. I believe the Roswell community will embrace this and really enjoy it because you get to interview the suspects on Friday evening yourself.”
There are two detectives that will introduce participants to the murder mystery story. A man named Rock Afela had won the prime-time sweepstakes game before meeting his untimely death. According to the rules of the sweepstakes, Afela was to name a beneficiary. The detectives found a list of names, but are unsure if the names on the list are to be beneficiaries that the victim narrowed down, or a list of suspects because he had received threats to his life.
“The people have a sheet and go around and meet each one of the suspects and ask questions about them. My husband plays the lawyer; Hugh Taylor is in it (thespian Taylor is known for his performances on the stage of the Roswell Community Little Theatre); the Bullocks are in it. We have some really well-known people in it. I don’t want to give out too much information so nobody has an advantage,” Currier said.
With the interviews done, the participants receive further information for Saturday, which includes a card identifying different businesses in downtown Roswell that will give them clues after being shown the card.
There is, of course, a time limit and the first participant who brings in the correct answer wins.
“That brings people into the community,” Currier said. “We’ve got these businesses involved, some may have even something special for those participating. You have to present the card to get the clue and between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. — they will get to know where — put in their ‘who done it’ sheet.
“It’s suspense, intrigue, using your brains to try to figure out who did it. I am hoping it will be starting something new. If you have kids you can take them with you to the various merchants.
“It’s going to be fun, you can work it with your family or your spouse to come up with who did it. I have people excited about this who want to win.
“The motive is easy and you have to have the right evidence to support who did it. We’ll have a catered dinner at the UFO Museum (6 p.m.). The detectives will announce who did it and we’ll announce the winner. The first prize is a $500 gift package, two nights at the Elegante Junior Suites in Ruidoso.
“That’s at the base on the mountains. And we have other prizes, too … all valued over $100. Really, I think it’s an engaging thing,” Currier said.
Wings for L.I.F.E. benefits from the event. The organization helps children and adults direct their lives by teaching them skills they need to make positive choices and tap into their special talents as viable members of the community. This event will benefit the children’s program.
Currier said, “We have various programs at Wings for L.I.F.E.; we do have parenting classes, we have programs that we do with the district court, but our children’s program is pretty much the most costliest. Since we offer all our programs for free — and a lot of the people are underserved — it’s a very mixed group. We get anywhere from 240 to 300 children in our Building Assets after school program. It teaches social and emotional learning skills. Things like empathy, self esteem, boundaries, respect, commitment to learning, cultural diversity, all these wonderful social skills. We have a program in the middle schools too. We have 12 elementary schools verging into four middle schools — that’s a lot of adjustment. So we try to work with our kids; we do bully prevention; we teach empathy, treating others the way you want to be treated.”
According to Currier the program is called the WhyTry-Resilience Program, which is a free, open-enrollment after-school program available to middle school students.
“This program helps and we are really grateful to RISD for allowing us to be on site with our after school program,” Currier said. “It is an option for the kids to be in, to learn these wonderful leadership skills. We give them the skills that they need to be successful at school.
“Studies … have been done on children in elementary schools to young adulthood who were in these programs. They don’t get into trouble with the law or have problems. And in addition to giving them core values … it raises academic grades … Kids are more engaged, they are getting along with others in school. They don’t tune out because they don’t like being there. And the group is very diverse, we have first through fifth grade with younger siblings, if they are mature enough …
“A child might be coming into the class not knowing the other kids. But a strong bond forms and they all support one another. …”
Parents fill out questionaries sharing the results that they see in their children. Comments such as, “She cares about other’s feelings,” “He makes better choices,” “More social awareness. Better understands how to manage his feelings or handle kids being mean or bullying,” encourage Currier, the instructors — who are either social workers or educators — and assistants in continuing the programs.
“We have over a 100 kids in the middle school program, and in the elementary school, we just started. We’ve been doing this since 2009. We have 15 weekly programs because some of the schools have kids on waiting lists, so we started additional programs,” Currier said.
For more information and tickets, call 575-910-7835, visit the office at 505 N. Pennsylvania Ave. or visit eventgroove.com and search for Roswell, New Mexico and the murder mystery event.