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Fifth Annual Puzzlemania filled to capacity

By Staff | Feb 14, 2020

The top three teams at the Fifth Annual Puzzlemania included four-person teams, from left, The Nothing But Nubs, Puzz Kill and The Ringers. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Fifth Annual Puzzlemania, hosted by the Friends of Music, was filled to the maximum with puzzle enthusiasts on Sunday afternoon.

According to organizer Heather Marshall, 30 teams had been set as the event limit, after having seen a large interest in last year’s event, which had a lower team limit.

“We had 25 last year and turned people away,” Marshall said.

Teams of four-or-less each received the same 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, to work on for up to three hours. However, this year’s top teams finished long before the time was up.

Of course, any competition must have handicaps, and teams could purchase some creative ones to slow down their opposition. Individuals or teams could purchase handicaps to be placed on opposing teams who appeared to be making better progress. For periods of five-minutes at a time, teams could be slowed down with the addition of oven mitts or handcuffs that grouped all four team members together. The cost for a handicap was $25 and many teams took advantage of them.

Taking first place honors in just over an hour of puzzle creation, was team Puzz Kill. Team members, from left, are Shanan Hambrick, Stephanie Lawrence, Megan Watson and Rachel Novick. It was the team's first time competing in the event. Toni Milbourne

“You could buy immunity to the handicaps for $100,” said Marshall. “We had six teams that chose to do that.”

The winning team for 2020 consisted of four teachers from Clarke County High School, who said they had heard about the event from their school custodian.

“We were actually too late for last year when we heard,” said Shanan Hambrick, a member of team Puzz Kill, “so we made sure to look for it this year.”

Joining Hambrick on the winning team were Rachel Novick, Stephanie Lawrence and Megan Watson.

Their team was not the only one from Clarke County High as four of their fellow teachers formed the third-place team of the day, Nothing But Nubs. Megan Marasco, Elyse DeQuoy, Jennifer Angiulli and Lindsay Driego took some teasing from their victorious friends; however, they did comment that the winning team had not been “oven-mitted,” as they had been, several times throughout the afternoon.

Splitting the Clarke County friends were members of The Ringers. The team was made up of three friends, Carly Hixon, Kelly Comer and Ashley Adams, along with single player Jenna Newsome.

“I was fortunate to get on a good team,” Newsome said.

According to Marshall, Puzzlemania had secured a sponsor for the first time this year. The sponsor, Springbok Puzzles, provided a discount on puzzles purchased for the event.

“We will definitely clear at least $5,000 on the event,” Marshall said.

For next year’s event, Marshall and her fellow Puzzlemania organizers anticipate further expansion being made.

“It appeals to families, women, groups of all ages, so many of our teams are repeat attenders,” Marshall said. “We are looking at potentially adding kids tables.”

The fundraising event benefits the Friends of Music, who will use the event proceeds to purchase instruments for elementary and middle schools and provide scholarships for music students.