I’m heading down Diamond Lake Boulevard on a Friday night with frosted pink lipstick and a halo of hairspray. I’m not quite sure if I look enough like “Biffy’s friend,” a snobby ’80s yuppie who lives in Miami and hangs out at country clubs, but I tried.

I park at the Idleyld Lodge and head inside thinking that if you’ve never gone stag to a murder mystery dinner with a bunch of strangers, you just haven’t lived.

Jessica Mathison and her partner, Ron Welch, are there to greet me, decked out in glorious ’80s array. If you have checked out the Escape Rooms at the Idleyld Lodge, you may be familiar with this gracious pair and Ron’s signature mustache.

I had a few encounters with Welch over the summer as he was running the concessions stand at the Fir Grove Splash Pad. He was always a friendly face, and when I learned that they had begun hosting Murder Mystery Dinners at the Lodge, I was intrigued.

Upon reserving my spot, I was given a backstory on my character and the others who would be joining me for a buffet style dinner. Everyone comes dressed up and acts as if they were that person throughout the evening, responding to questions appropriately.

As the dinner progresses, we learn more information about the characters and try to piece together who is the perpetrator when a deadly event “unexpectedly” occurs sometime before dessert.

“It has been neat to watch some of our repeat customers come out of their shells,” Mathison said. “Some people start out wanting to be only a supporting character with the idea that they will just watch the mystery unfold and fill out their accusation sheet. By the end of the evening, they will tell me that they wished they would have asked for a main role because they had so much fun and want to do even more!”

Indeed, I start out feeling a bit shy as I join a table of people already chit-chatting. I sip on a soda and introduce myself, enjoying the ’80s hits. My table-mates are funny, cracking jokes and making fun of one another, rarely breaking character. As the evening goes on, we have fun pointing fingers at one another, trying to figure out the culprit.

Welch and Mathison have been inventive on ways to draw people to their atmospheric lodge. They have four escape rooms, offer events and catering and Welch also does magic and hypnotism.

This year, they have added Friday night events such as the murder mystery dinners, open mic nights and Family Fun nights, which include karaoke, trivia, board games and dancing. People of all ages are welcome to come join in the fun and meet others in the community.

Each dinner has a new theme, with a recent one being inspired by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Catch the next one on Nov. 8. Tickets can be purchased online at www.idleyldlodge.com/book-now.

Idleyld Lodge is a great place to be a little silly and share some laughs with friends, old and new.

Jennifer Grafiada is a writer, web designer and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who is blessed to live in Douglas County. You can find her at TimberTownMedia.com.

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