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WHEN IN ROANE: The judge wore WHAT?!? But wait till you hear what the mayor and council did

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By Cindy Simpson

Taking part in a scavenger hunt has always sounded like fun.

Taking part in a scavenger hunt that breaks a world record and has the potential of winning world class trip sounds even better.

Not only do the participants get a chance to help break the world record, which is cool in itself, but also winners will go to Rome, which for me would be my first visit outside the United States.

The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen — or GISHWHES — is the playful name that coordinators, including actor Misha Collins, came up with for the event.

People in this community were more than generous to help me.

Harriman City Council members Kenyon Mee, Buddy Holley and Ken Mynatt, Mayor Chris Mason and City Clerk Angie Skidmore did a spirited rendition of the Hokey Pokey; Roane County General Sessions Judge Dennis Humphrey sat at his bench looking the part of a menacing Darth Vader; and Mynatt and his son Kasey helped with a photo as well.

My participation in this event has gotten mostly enthusiasm and amusement, while a few people look skeptically at it, wondering why anyone would waste their time on such endeavors in the name of fun.

For me, it’s a chance to do something outside the norm, something more than a Friday-night movie or ball game, which are both fun but typical activities for me.

In those cases, I’m only a spectator watching from the sidelines, but this was a chance to do something a little silly, a little outside most people’s comfort zone.

GISHWHES organizers want the scavenger hunt to be more than just a game, however, and included things that could make a real difference, such as videotaping an act of kindness and a donation of clothing to a clothing drive or homeless shelter.

In fact, Collins is known for his philanthropic work through Random Acts, a division of The Art Department Inc., that encourages people to do good works in their communities and last year did a number of projects that helped Haiti.

Some of the other teams’ random unexpected acts of kindness blew anything we could think of out of the water.

One video showed a rival team’s member meeting and feeding two street children in the Philippines. The children were spotted staring into a restaurant’s windows.

My teammates come mostly from the United States, including Texas, California and Georgia, but one lives in Belfast, United Kingdom.

We talk via Facebook, text and through a forum we set up, and we found great amusement in the items we’ve tackled, which included photo, video and websites.

One girl was even brave enough to wear a dress made of bacon, a feat I considered until I thought of the financial aspects of that much bacon. Somehow, the dress looked incredible on her — at least until you realize it’s bacon.

The challenges range from the easy to the more difficult — take a swim in a wedding dress in the Dead Sea, anyone? — and the contest judges vouched they would do Google research to make sure people aren’t just finding pictures or videos online.

As the event drew to a close last Monday evening, I scrambled after a Rockwood City Council meeting to finish a few last-minute projects before the deadline closed in the early morning hours Tuesday.

My last-minute items included a laptop made of felt and a short video featuring my 2-year-old son, Jacob, on how to make ironing a wedding dress look easy.

My husband Jarrett used the candy Swedish Fish to make an image of Jared Padalecki, an actor with Collins on the show “Supernatural,” a favorite series of ours.

Some of my teammates were still doing last-minute entries as I called it a night around midnight, giving up on accomplishing some items I had intended to do — including a suit made of leaves and an image of the singer Shakira made with coffee beans.

My team members say we should all do it together again next year. I’ll think about it.

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Cindy Simpson is a Roane County News reporter who has kept her co-workers entertained with tales of her endeavors on the scavenger-hunt path.