Southlanders bring ‘Hunger Games’ home
BY DONNA VICKROY email@example.com July 24, 2012 7:54PM
Nic Mitchell (left) ambushes Brendan Borgman during a re-enactment of "The Hunger Games" at the Cook County Forest Preserve's Turtlehead Lake on Sunday. | Donna Vickroy~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 26, 2012 6:07AM
Brendan Borgman thought he had a good strategy. He would wait until all of the other “warriors” had chosen their weapons and run off into the woods. Then he would take whatever was left and head out after them.
The leftovers included plastic bats and a Nerf revolver.
The plan backfired, however, when his gun jammed and Borgman, 20, was tackled and de-flagged to become the first victim in Jake Ganzer’s rendition of “The Hunger Games” on Sunday at Turtlehead Lake, near 135th Street and Harlem Avenue in Orland Township.
“It’s OK,” Borgman said, trotting back toward the game’s starting point. “I get to go back in as a tracker jacker (a genetically altered wasp that causes fictional hallucinations).”
For all those who complain, and there are many, that today’s youth do little more than sit around eating bad food and playing video games, here was evidence to the contrary. Sure, the event may have been an aberration, but it offered hope that the compulsion to play “kick the can” or pickup baseball or any other of myriad spontaneous games still lives.
Dressed mostly in dark-colored workout wear, some 20 youths from Tinley Park and Orland Hills gathered at the Cook County Forest Preserve site about 10 a.m. They stretched, sipped water and got their heads in the game while Ganzer — who devised the three-hour outdoor tournament based on the popular book and movie, “The Hunger Games” — went over the rules.
True to the story, the competitors would race to a weapons station, choose from a host of options, including Nerf guns, dodge balls, plastic swords and tennis balls, and then run for cover in the nearby woods. They would use the weapons to eliminate each other, the lone survivor emerging as victor.
But in a major departure from the fictional blockbuster, there would be no killing. Instead, each participant wore two fabric flags, one symbolizing injury, the other for death. A loss of both flags meant the soldier was out of the game.
Ganzer said he organized the event as a way to celebrate his 20th birthday and because it seemed like a fun thing to do.
“It hasn’t been done,” he said.
He had help from Mary Wallenius, 19, who also served as referee, alerting people of casualties via airhorn.
Ganzer considered just about everything, including a prize for the winner — $40, candy, popcorn and fake flowers. The prize money came from the $2 entry fee each participant paid.
Alex Dovgin, 20, has read all three books in the Suzanne Collins series. Dovgin believed that would give her an advantage.
“Plus, I’m a runner,” she said. “My district is definitely going to win.”
For the exact opposite reason, both Biz Hyzy, 20, and Kris Tupas, 18, had concerns.
“I’m not a fast runner,” Hyzy said. “But it is cool to act out a story.”
“I’m totally unathletic, so I’ll probably lose,” Tupas said.
On the other hand, Hyzy noted, she had been assigned to represent District 12, the same district that victor Katniss Everdeen represented in the novel.
Darlene Narca, of Orland Hills, said it was time for many of the participants to act on bravado.
“During the movie, we all sat there going, ‘I could totally do that,’ ” she said.
In the end, it was Brian Collins (no relation to the author) who defended and defeated his way to the title.
Collins, 19, said: “My strategy was to play very defensively and let everyone else try to kill each other off. I think that is what led to my victory; I hung back and let the other competitors fight it out, and when it came down to the final two, I was able to get a good jump on him to win.”
Ganzer said it was the most awesome event ever.
“We’re sore from running, scratched up from tree branches and exhausted, but it was totally worth it,” Ganzer said.