The popular “Death by Chocolate” game will return to West Ocean City, Md., on Sunday, Feb. 15. The free game takes players to 16 different merchants, where they will search for a clue, figure out the answer and get their card validated. A free chocolate treat will await participants as they go to each store to complete their game card.
Winners, chosen by random draw, will take home a variety of prizes, ranging from gift certificates to a set of three Alex & Ani bracelets courtesy of Park Place Jewelers.
“Death by Chocolate is a way to create awareness of local merchants in West Ocean City and a perfect opportunity for the owners who are transitioning their stores to the spring,” said Jan Patterson-Hohman, who organizes Death by Chocolate with Louise Reardon. They own CraZy LadyZ!, one of the businesses taking part in the event.
“It’s an upbeat, crazy, fun day on a Sunday,” Patterson-Hohman said.
To play Death by Chocolate, players will pick up a “Where the Heck am I?” game card at any of the 16 participating stores on Sunday. To be eligible for prizes, players must visit all of the merchants, in any order, and figure out the clue to get their card validated, while indulging in chocolate. The answers to this year’s clues will be places in the United States — either a city, state, particular location or a destination — Patterson-Hohman said.
The stores will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and participants can leave their completed cards at the last stop on their route or bring them to Sunset Grille, on Sunset Avenue in West Ocean City, by 6 p.m., for a chance to win prizes.
Everyone who turns in a completed card has a chance to win one of the 16 prizes at Sunset Grille’s 7 p.m. drawing. Players do not have to be present to win. Winners will be notified the next day, Monday, Feb. 16.
There will be a party at Sunset Grille, where drink specials will start at 1 p.m. and include $3.25 wine, $1.75 domestic beer, $4 orange crushes and $4 chocolate martinis. Also, participants can buy one entrée and appetizer and get a second entrée free from 4 to 7 p.m. To get the dinner deal, participants must make a reservation under “Death by Chocolate.”
Patterson-Hohman and Reardon brought the Death by Chocolate idea from another town to West Ocean City eight years ago.
“Each year, Death by Chocolate has grown, and it’s a fun event in the dead of winter,” Patterson-Hohman said.
More than 600 people participated last year. There are people who have never missed a year and others who travel from Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to partake in the activities, she said.
“Even if you have participated before, it’s a chance for community members to see new offerings, products and services from these merchants,” Patterson-Hohman said. “Players have the chance to meet the owners, and it’s a guaranteed fun day.”
Two new merchants will take part this year, Bomshell Boutique and Precious’ Boutique.
Park Place Jewelers has been participating in Death by Chocolate since its inception.
“I think it’s a great way to bring new customers into our business and to have fun with chocolate. We love it, and it’s a great fit in West Ocean City,” said Jill Ferrante, owner of Park Place Jewelers with her husband, Todd. “Every merchant involved likes to have different treats so participants can have a new taste in each place.”
The jewelry store will feature an assortment of chocolates, including strawberry-chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate crunch (chocolate covered cameral popcorn).
“We are excited to participate every year, and it’s a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Ferrante said.
Wockenfuss Candies has participated in the West Ocean City event for the past seven years.
“I love that it gives you a chance to meet local merchants and you get a chance to see a lot of great shops in West Ocean City,” owner Chris Butler said. “Jan and Louise from CraZy LadyZ come up with a different game each year, and it’s always a lot of fun.”
This year, Wockenfuss will be serving chocolate covered strawberries, nonpareils, truffles and almond butter crunch to participants. Players can enjoy a special surprise treat from the owner and will have the chance to win a chocolate tower from the candy shop after handing in their completed game card.
Some players make a day of Death by Chocolate, visiting a couple stores in the morning, taking a break for lunch and continuing to play in the afternoon. People have been calling since November to see what new game will be featured, and organizers try to keep it creative, Patterson-Hohman said.
Death by Chocolate starts at 10 a.m. Sunday and continues until 5 p.m., followed by the celebration at Sunset Grille. Call (410) 213-8110 to make dinner reservations at the restaurant. For more information about the game, call (410) 213-2085.