The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 14, 2013

'Play group' has party tradition

For 40 years, these Mankato-area couples have been throwing themed parties


Lynn Bentzen calls it the “play group.”

Each December, the group meets and each couple gets a two-month window in which to throw their party. (They skip January and February.)

They’ve had a few changes over the years, including the fact that they don’t have to hire sitters anymore.

Back in those days, Sylvia McCarty-Scheurer said, parents hired a sitter and had fun with other grownups. Parents didn’t tote their kids everywhere because they were guilty about not spending enough time together, she said, laughing.

The parties don’t go as late into the evening as they used to, but the good times still last: the county fair-themed party lasted past midnight.

And they don’t really tell jokes anymore — just the punchlines. “We can’t get new members anymore,” McCarty-Scheurer said, joking, because no one would know when to laugh.

On this evening, Tom and Lynn Bentzen are hosting a “minute to win it” themed party at their North Mankato home. Lynn has chosen 12 games and the guests face off in one-on-one contests of physical dexterity.

Bonny Hunt and Gary Schmidt have 60 seconds to put 50 colored candles in the cup of the same color. Later, Tom Bentzen and Sylvia McCarty-Scheurer compete to see who can remove two pennies from the bottom of a pair of nylons the fastest — one-handed.

It also seems like the group works well because they are similar enough to get along seamlessly but with enough distinction to make for interesting conversation.

Sylvia McCarty-Scheurer said that the group tends to have “common values.” Her husband, Dan, notes that they also come from different backgrounds, such as construction, finance, computers, pharmaceutical sales and retail food.

But genuine affection seems at the group’s core.

“We just care about each other,” Sylvia McCarty-Scheurer said.

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