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Cracking the case at NAWS’ inaugural murder mystery

Shots were flying, and people were dying.

On the evening of Saturday, Feb. 24, NAWS hosted its inaugural Murder at O’Henry’s Speakeasy, giving guests a chance to try their hand at solving a mystery.

The fundraiser, held at Chicago Gaelic Park, featured a 1920s theme that encouraged those on hand to dress in era-appropriate clothing. Food and drinks were provided.

Murder at O’Henry’s Speakeasy is a story about the mystery surrounding the deaths of Billy Jackson and Amanda Williams. The two get killed, while the other guests are required to figure out whodunit.

“I enjoy going to murder mysteries socially, and I thought that it would be fun to have that, have people come out [to] experience it, and raise funds for animals at the same time,” NAWS board member Delonda Belanger said.

The mystery included humor reminiscent of the time period, Belanger said. The cast included some gangsters, corrupt cops, detectives, black jack dealers and a fortune teller.

“[We had a] gangster that was sleeping with one of flapper girls, even though he was married, and she got pregnant,” Belanger said.

Guests had to take the stairs and utilize a password to get inside. There, a gangster stood at the door awaiting their arrival.

“Everyone that comes in here is a suspect because only people that are breaking the law go to speakeasies,” Belanger said.

Historically, the 1920s marks the start of the prohibition era.

“This is all legal,” Belanger said, referring to the bar. “Everything we’re doing here is illegal.”

Everyone on hand for the fundraiser worked at each of their tables to solve the mystery.

The banquet hall set the backdrop for the fundraiser quite well, Belanger said. The room and the décor had a 1920s feel to them.

Games were played at each table throughout the evening.

Raffles prizes were available for viewing during the event. They ranged in value anywhere from $75 and $80 to $125 and $150.

Toward the back of the banquet hall, silent auction items were displayed for guests to peruse.

Belanger said she thinks the fundraiser can be considered a success.

“It’s really getting everyone involved, which is good,” Belanger said. “Because if you only had four people that were doing everything, then everyone else is just sitting and watching. So, to make everybody part of the party, [it] really makes them all feel involved.”

By the evening’s end, raffle prizes were issued to the winners.

“I’m very happy with the turnout, especially with it being our first one,” Belanger said. “It was actually a really nice turnout. We were really excited about how many people came dressed and in character and were really excited about participating.”

More than 100 guests were on hand for the event.

Belanger hopes this can become an annual tradition for NAWS.

“We’ll have a totally different theme [next year,]” she said.

This year’s fundraiser was sponsored by A Salon Suite, Century 21 Affiliated, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, Rustico, Caputo & Popovic, and PEAK Development Strategies.


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