Pilot story and photos
by BILL LUNDQUIST
"Green shamrocks and red herrings" was the theme of the March Hospitality Tours.
About 50 participants attempted to solve a fictional St. Patrick's Day mystery while they ate their way across Brookings-Harbor.
Fittingly, the answer was finally revealed at the one place in Brookings where it is legal to shoot people. No, the butler didn't do it.
A magical mystery tour
The original mystery, written by Darold Carlin and Hospitality Tours Director Jan Norwood, was titled "Who Heard the Last Bailey's Irish Scream?"
As it turned out, the most important clue was embedded in the title question, but only super sleuth Harriet Rupp caught on.
Her prize for solving Bailey's Irish Scream was, of course, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream.
Meanwhile, what Norwood called a "cast of characters, who by all accounts, should be locked up in the Tower of London" led tour participants down blind alleys.
Participants moved from restaurant to restaurant, picking up clues and (more importantly) free samples, along the way.
They attempted to solve the murder of Blarney Bailey, the kissing bandit of Ireland.
Bailey was found stabbed, shot and hung by a rope. The suspects included unsavory characters like the pickpocket Benny "The Dip" Morehead and Johnny "Rat Face" Thornbill, "probably the ugliest guy in the entire British Isles." Even London detective Ben Bradbury couldn't be ruled out.
Tour participants picked up more clues at each stop. The first one was that Molly Danfield, a bank teller famous for her generosity with her, um, generous assets, didn't do it. Murder turned out to be about the only thing she wouldn't do.
The tour began at the Pizza Place on the corner of Railroad Street and Memory Lane.
It, however, turned out to be mysteriously closed, despite prior arrangements with Norwood.
The confusion, along with morning fog, added to the air of mystery, but the participants didn't miss out on their pizza. The next stop was Figaro's Italian Kitchen in Harbor.
Figaro's was open and ready. Manager Shayne Guptill offered samples of his new low-carb pizza, as well as regular and thin-crust pizza.
Participants were also instructed to pick up something at the Dollar Tree store next to Figaro's for a lunchtime gift exchange.
Corn chips and cabbage
The next two stops made up the most incongruous combination since the Spanish Armada was wrecked on the coast of Ireland.
The first stop was Juanita's Kitchen in Harbor where owner Manuel Garcia served up free bowls of several types of Mexican soups while Norwood handed out more clues.
Garcia was so generous that the participants were still dining on albondigas soup and tortilla chips when it was time for lunch.
They hated to leave Juanita's but Norwood had already made plans for a special St. Patrick's Day lunch of corned beef and cabbage at the Whaleshead Restaurant north of Brookings.
Sweets, violence and a solution
With bellies full of Mexican and Irish food, and heads spinning from all the characters and clues, the participants headed back to Brookings for green-sprinkled cookies at Delaney's Bakery.
With no room for another bite of food, the participants moved on to their final destination: X-treme Action Paintball on Railroad Street.
They were given a tour of the paintball facility by owner Shannon Schofield and manager Shannon Graves, who wore T-shirts that said "Shannon #1" and "Shannon #2."
Behind the counter were enough CO2 powered paintball guns to warm the heart of a National Rifle Association lobbyist.
Adjacent was a large room with tables and chairs where paintball players can purchase snacks and relax between games.
The next room contained the combat zone. The walls are blacked out and regular, black and spinning "disco" lights add an eerie atmosphere.
A sawdust floor absorbs paint and cushions falls for those who really throw themselves into their play.
There are walls, stacks of tires and forts for players to hide behind while they attempt to shoot each other.
Schofield said the paintballs are actually colored soap in biodegradable casings.
They are fired at 220 feet per second. That's below the normal indoor standard of 280 feet per second, but Schofield said being hit with one still feels like being snapped with a towel. It can leave a "hickey" on bare skin.
One thing it can't do is damage the mandatory goggles, which can stand up to direct hits from 300-foot-per-second velocity guns.
For additional safety, the games are refereed by employees in towers who communicate with radios and the intercom. They can stop the game if something goes wrong.
What kind of nut would play such a sport? Well, the Coast Guard and police department both have paintball teams, said Schofield.
Children 10 and older can play, and those 12 and older do not have to be accompanied by an adult. Everyone younger than 18, however, needs a parent's signature.
"Is there a maximum age?" asked one participant.
Schofield said he knew of an 85-year-old who doesn't move around much, but is a great shot.
He said it surprises him how seemingly quiet people turn into "Rambos" and "Rambets" in the combat room.
After watching Schofield plaster a wall on the opposite side of the room with his paintball gun, some of the seniors got wicked glints in their eyes.
Two hours of play, including the gun, face mask, CO2 cartridge and 50 rounds of paintballs, cost $20.
After leaving the combat area, the tour participants took seats at the tables to solve the mystery.
"You all were looking in the wrong place all day," said Norwood. "The question was, Who heard the last Bailey's Irish scream?' It doesn't say anywhere to solve a murder."
The last one to hear Bailey scream was Bradbury, the detective, because one of the clues revealed he had bugged Bailey's apartment. It didn't matter who killed Bailey. That wasn't the question or the mystery.