Peterborough native launches immersive event planning business

  • Haley Spitzfaden Courtesy photo—

  • Chris Grace Courtesy photo—

  • Peterborough native Haley Spitzfaden was recently honored by the mayor of Fairfield, Iowa for her work with immersive event planning business LilaQuests, which she co-founded. Courtesy photo—

  • Peterborough native Haley Spitzfaden has launched an immersive event planning business called Lila Quests. Courtesy photo—

  • Peterborough native Haley Spitzfaden has launched an immersive event planning business called Lila Quests. Courtesy photo—

  • Peterborough native Haley Spitzfaden has launched an immersive event planning business called Lila Quests. Above, a scene from the Celtic Adventure. Photo by Luke Stenger

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/23/2018 5:54:07 PM

A harmless dinner party turns into a murder mystery. A walk around the city becomes a magical mission that ends in a dream marriage proposal. A gathering of friends is the first step on a quest straight out of Zelda or Final Fantasy. Peterborough native Haley Spitzfaden’s immersive events planning business, Lila Quests, does all that and more.

“I really want to help the world in any way I can,” Spitzfaden said. “This feels to me like an opportunity to do that through bringing people a new experience in their lives, getting them out of the day-to-day grind, and opening them up to magic, wonder and whimsy.”

Spitzfaden is in college at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, and it was there where she met business partner Chris Grace (“we met because we’re both huge nerds,” she said). The two planned a university event together, and then another, and after a couple successes, the pair knew they were onto something.

It started with a mystery dinner party on campus. Attendees showed up knowing little about what was about to transpire.

“They know it will be fun, they know they’ll solve puzzles with their friends, they know they’ll have food,” Spitzfaden said. “They get there, and the quest will unfold. Before they know it, there’s magic, there’s a story and they’re immersed in a competitive adventure.”

The quest has elements of the classic murder mystery party, and incorporates some escape room-style puzzles. But what sets it apart from other team-building group events is the magic.

“One of the things we like to incorporate in every experience is some sort of science disguised as magic,” Grace said.

Clues can be viewed through the “Lens of Truth,” a cellphone app augmented reality viewer that – when viewed through the screen – changes the real-life landscape in front of you. Similar magic is deployed in the Fairytale Engagement, another of Lila Quest’s offerings, which sends a future fiancee around town hunting for memories of their courtship before culminating in a proposal. The Celtic Adventure features mysterious vials of liquid that change color before one’s eyes.

Word got out about Lila Quests’ immersive events, and before long, the pair had a gig in Iowa City planning the premiere for “Ready, Player One,” the latest Steven Spielberg film. That event garnered so much buzz that LilaQuests was commended by the mayor – as well as the man who inspired “Ready, Player One,” Walter Day – for bringing magic to Iowa.

Spitzfaden said she hopes to transition the business from a part-time project to a sustainable career after college. She’s spending the summer in New York City interning with the David Lynch Foundation, and there she sees one potential avenue where Lila Quests could thrive – corporate and nonprofit fundraisers.

“For your next fundraising effort, hire us and we’ll have an adventure for you,” Spitzfaden said. “Instead of people paying ten grand for a table at a dinner ... they’re getting something back that’s much greater than a dinner, they’re getting to engage with the story, they get a chance to be active and involved, and get an adventure out of it.”

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