Locals might laugh at the thought of laser tag at the local library, thanks to Minooka native and actor Nick Offerman after his spoof of the Minooka Community Calendar last year on the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” but laser tag has become a regular and well-received program at the Three Rivers Public Library District in Channahon.
“The general idea of running around and essentially breaking all of the library rules creates a draw, as well as the thought of being in the building after hours for an exclusive, free event; it’s a no-brainer,” youth services librarian Lisa Berger said of the monthly laser tag events for teens and tweens.
This weekend, Berger said the library changed some of the rules – normally which allows the activity for youths in fifth to 12th grades – and offered laser tag for children ages five to 12 on Saturday. Sunday was open to families.
“We did the special weekend to plug the program, and it was a fun start-of-the-year kind of thing. We have had a lot of requests to offer laser tag for other age groups other than the tweens and teens,” Berger said.
Twelve children walked through the library doors Saturday after the patrons had left. Then the kids took over the book stacks in several games of tag. With eight light guns, teams rotated in and out and battled one another for the hourlong event.
The doors also closed at 5 p.m. Sunday night; when the coast was clear, they reopened at 5:20 p.m. for four families from the Channahon and Minooka area to take to the stacks.
First to arrive was Jamie Fisher and her daughter Mackenzie, 9, and son Alex, 8, of Channahon. Fisher, a first-timer, said her children had played numerous times and had their strategy figured out. Fisher said she did this for her family.
“This will be a great family bonding activity. My son loves it, and I’m just trying to not injure myself,” Jamie said.
Erin Witcofski of Minooka brought her three sons, one of whom has special needs, which led her to bring him to a safe environment such as the library to play games like his siblings.
“The real reason is because my son, Nathan, has special needs. He isn’t able to go to the laser tag establishments because the lights, noise and unfamiliar environment is too much for him. This is a safe place, and I can also play along with him,” Witcofski said.
Her son Zachary Witcofski, 9, walked in the door ready to go by saying, “Our team is going to rock!” and later claimed his strategy was to “go to the nonfiction section because nobody ever goes back there.”
Lynn Castaneda and Anita Rowold work in the library’s youth services department and ran the Sunday family event. Rowold devised a chart and kept the families loaded with their laser tag guns. The families competed in three rounds with six battles in each round. The event culminated in a Grand Final Battle, which the Witcofski team won.
Prizes included a board game, a box of popcorn, a movie from Family Video and crazy bread from Marco’s Pizza.
Perhaps the most unique dynamic of the evening was how four families of strangers began the evening quiet and calm, and once the ice was broken and the children and adults bonded over the successes and failures of each round, the noise level got louder and louder.
“We always bump around to find the best library programs. This library has the best programs and a new and exciting pumped-up staff,” said Jessica Marchiniak of Channahon, a mother of three. “I think laser tag will make next year’s Christmas list.”
The next family laser tag event dates are Feb. 19 and March 26. For information, call 815-467-6200 or visit trpld.org.