Sleuths wanted for Langley’s 36th Mystery Weekend
— Created February 19, 2020 by Kathy Reed
By Kacie Jo Voeller Whidbey Weekly
Prepare for mystery and mayhem with Whidbey Island’s twist on a Mardi Gras celebration in Langley this Saturday and Sunday during Langley’s Mystery Weekend 2020. The event, which features a Merriment and Mayhem at Mardi Gras theme this year, will include its first-ever parade at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Amateur sleuths, aided by clues from “The Langley Gazette” and information from over 30 costumed characters throughout the town, can join forces with characters including coroner Gus Gruesome and policewoman Polly Graph to figure out who has committed the murder in this immersive, fun- and pun-filled mystery event experience.
Attendees can pick up a clue map for $12 and a copy of “The Langley Gazette” Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Langley Visitor and Information Center (Mystery Weekend Headquarters) and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased online for will call at visitlangley.com, and discounted $10 tickets are available to military members, seniors, and children under 12. The guilty party will be announced at Whidbey Children’s Theatre at 5 p.m. Sunday, and will also be posted on visitlangley.com.
Rachel McDougald, who served as the writer of the mystery this year, said she looks forward to bringing the parade into the story to thicken the plot and add excitement to the atmosphere. The parade will go down 2nd Street and 1st Street, ending at Whale Bell Park.
“We’ve never had an event within the event before,” McDougald said.
McDougald recommends sleuths pay close attention to “The Langley Gazette” to help them solve the mystery. There will also be a coroner’s report at 1 p.m. both days to help sleuths get to the bottom of the mystery before turning in their answers by 4 p.m. Sunday to Mystery Weekend Headquarters. Entries will be entered in a prize drawing.
“Read the “Gazette” right off the bat, so when you come to characters you’ve got some idea how they fit in,” she said. “Other than that, I’d say to look for means, motive and opportunity.”
McDougald said the story has elements of the real world which have been dramatized almost beyond recognition.
“The plot lines mostly come from real life little things that I’ve blown completely out of proportion,” she said. “For example, when Washington state passed a bill allowing human composting last spring I knew that was a natural fit for the mystery. Within the story we have a coroner who wants to do ‘green burials’ on the cliff above Langley. He has all kinds of goofy ways to accomplish this and says it will stabilize the cliff. Of course, there are those who don’t want it and will go to some pretty bizarre lengths to stop him. (It is) real life blown out of proportion, twisted, and costumed.”
McDougald said the weekend has grown from a small community event to something that draws people from near and far to attend.
“For 36 years the businesses and people have put on this mystery as a way to entertain themselves and their community in the long dark days of winter,” she said. “That was how it started anyway; now we have characters (all volunteers by the way) who come from as far away as Texas. We have participants that use the mystery as the anchor for family reunions; they come from all over, rent a B&B or a bunch of hotel rooms and all play the mystery. It started as a small group having some fun and now we get people from around the world. It is truly amazing.”
Inge Morascini, executive director of the Langley Chamber of Commerce, said the event helps to draw people to downtown Langley during a lower-traffic season.
“It has ballooned into an event that brings about 2,700 people to town over that weekend,” she said. Morascini said the immersive Mystery Weekend allows people from the island and beyond to get acquainted with all Langley has to offer.
“It also provides an introduction to a lot of people to Langley and Whidbey Island and we see a lot of people coming back not only for the event but during the year as well,” she said.
Morascini said the parade will also offer a chance for attendees to take part in the mystery, and costumes are encouraged.
“Anybody who would like to participate in the parade can give us a ring or send an email to email@example.com and they can be part of the parade, not just watching,” she said. Josh Hauser, owner of Moonraker Books, said she has participated as an actor in the event since its inception.
“It came about because we wanted people to see as much of Langley as possible and get to know us,” she said. “We tried various things and we had kind of another little contest, but this one you could make people come in stores and meet us and get to know us and come to love us.”
Hauser, who opened Moonraker Books in 1971, said the twoday event provides entertainment for all ages.
“The best part of Mystery Weekend is that everybody has a good time,” she said. “Kids will love it, adults will love it, people who are honeymooners, their minds wander briefly from honeymooning to solving the mystery.”
Throughout the weekend, attendees have the chance to interact with characters throughout the town of Langley who may know something about the “murder,” she said.
“It is written with a great deal of humor and it stimulates your imagination,” she said. “You have the chance to see people who enjoy stepping out of themselves and make utter fools of themselves.”
Hauser said the event has become a tradition for many locals and attendees from off the island.
“It has been fun watching people who have participated year after year come back with that enthusiasm and to welcome the newcomers who I know will become old visitors,” she said.
More information and event apparel can be found at visitlangley. com.