In putting together this anniversary issue of the City of Marathon (see pages 7-11), the one thing so many members of the community have commented on is the increased and expanded role of the city’s parks and recreation department. And, to be clear, they aren’t talking about the quality of the sod or perfectly combed beaches. They’re talking about the programs and how much they have added to Marathon’s quality of life — pickleball, smart start programs for basketball, baseball, soccer and football, carnivals, homeschool P.E., little league, arts and crafts days, and skate night. The park is literally alive with action. And now, the parks department is rolling out” MANHUNT” on Friday, Nov. 1.

What is manhunt? Well, it’s like team-based hide-and-go-seek where one side hides and the other side hunts. The hiders try to make it to the free zone, and those who are caught are tagged out.

It is the latest brainchild of the department under the direction of Paul Davis. He’s the former Marathon High School football coach who has signed on — expressly — so he can touch the lives of an entire generation.

“I love coaching, but this is better,” he said, from his pavilion office at Marathon Community Park. “I get to see, watch and help kids develop from the time they’re 6 years old, instead of getting sixth graders or freshmen.” He’s manipulating the big picture now, rather than calling each play. He’s been on the job for three months now, learning the ropes and listening to his crew.

“Genesis Villatoro proposed this Manhunt game, and I said, ‘Okay, let’s roll with it.’” He said he hopes it’s a good way to get older kids into the park programs.

And by older kids, I really hope he understands that he’s talking to me. I KNOW manhunt.

In my family, we play it after Thanksgiving dinner — three generations — and we take it seriously. We show up in our party finery, with a go-bag of black shirts and pants. In 2016, we played at my dad’s house and it was epic. At one point, I rolled myself under a hedge and covered myself with dirt and leaves and even closed my eyes so my 20- and 30-something nieces and nephews couldn’t find me. There were family members dropping out of very tall almond trees and others clinging to the underside of the dock. Between each round we retired to the garage to drink another lite beer (stay hydrated!) and talk some smack. In 2018, my niece-in-law’s stepfather — a dapper man unprepared for the ravages of manhunt and thus wearing dress shoes — hid in a bush for 45 MINUTES and then crowed most unbecomingly when he won that round. (Yes, those are my sour grapes.)

I look forward to playing an organized game of manhunt, hosted by the City of Marathon. In my family, whoever can shout “I won!” the loudest and most persistently is usually crowned the winner, so I might have a chance. Game on!

If you would like to have the Weekly delivered to your mailbox or inbox along with our daily news blast, please subscribe here.

Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.