Within an hour of registration opening, spots for Hopkinton’s inaugural “It’s a Puzzler” competition sold out. Five more sports were added, and the event quickly sold out again.
It’s a Puzzler is a team jigsaw puzzle competition. Teams of between two and five individuals will strive to complete their version of the same 500-piece puzzle. The team that finishes first will win a prize. The event will take place at the Senior Center on Sunday, Jan. 15, from 2-5 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
“It is just a nice, different activity. It is not a team sport, or video game, but it is engaging and fun, and it is competitive,” Parks & Recreation Director Jay Guelfi said.
This year, Parks & Rec set out to create programs that would engage older citizens in town. The department runs many programs for children and young adults.
“We don’t have a lot of programs for older folks in town, so we wanted to create some,” Guelfi said.
Looking for ideas, a Parks & Rec staffer saw that the Medway Parks & Recreation Department held jigsaw puzzle competitions. Program coordinator Jenny Hart and Guelfi started searching the internet to get a better sense of what these events were like.
“There are national competitions and worldwide competitions. People have special T-shirts made, they practice and it looks like a lot of fun,” Hart said.
Parks & Rec reached out to the Senior Center and began planning the event. Organizers from both departments are puzzlers. Guelfi and his daughter enjoy completing puzzles around the holidays. At the Senior Center, there always is a puzzle in progress, and both the director and assistant director enjoy puzzles. This program marks the first time that the Parks & Rec and the Senior Center have planned an event together.
“We wanted to make sure that we were kind of targeting people from all over town to really make it a community event,” Senior Center Assistant Director Jessica Migneault said.
Parks & Rec and the Senior Center are trying to create an intergenerational event. This is the first such event the Senior Center has been a part of since the pandemic. Parks & Rec and the Senior Center hoped to see teams made up of grandparents and grandchildren, families and friends.
“These types of events are just a really great way for people to kind of recognize and value each other,” Migneault said.
Parks & Rec and the Senior Center wanted to make this event accessible to all. To make registering for the competition easier, the Senior Center helped residents who were not as comfortable using the online system and took phone reservations.
“What’s been really great is seniors have been calling us to register and saying, ‘My team members include my daughter, my granddaughter, my neighbor,’ ” Migneault said.
Those without teammates were able to register as free agents. At the event, they will be able to join a team or form their own team with other individual registrants.
The event is affordable as well. The cost per team is $10, which will cover the cost of the puzzles.
For participants with a closet full of puzzles, a swap will take place as well. Individuals can bring puzzles they already have completed and take home different ones for a new challenge.
The organizers knew that there was some interest in the event, but they did not expect it to fill up so quickly.
“We’re pretty blown away with how popular this event is shaping up to date,” Migneault said.
Because of the enthusiasm for this event, another puzzle competition is being planned for the spring.