The World's (previous) Largest Jigsaw Puzzle
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LIFE: The Great Challenge   -   by Royce B. McClure
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August 10, 2007
Frenchtown Seniors - Monroe, MI, USA

Started June 14, 2007 and completed on August 10, 2007 (57 days and 11 hours to complete.)

Frenchtown Seniors - Monroe

Here at the Frenchtown Senior Center there is always a puzzle being worked on. A typical puzzle usually consists of 1,000 pieces and approximately 20” x 27” in size. The puzzle is done on a table set up in our main lobby area and is available to any members who would like to work on it. Our Executive Director, Barbara Mazur, feels that this an activity that brings members together interacting with each other and developing friendships and giving a feeling of accomplishment when a puzzle is completed. I am the Accountant for the Center and as I have watched these puzzles being done I have seen our members complete some in just a few days. So one day I went up to a couple of what I call our main puzzle people, Ray and Lonnie, and said to them that I was going to find a puzzle that would be a real challenge. And of course Ray responds immediately with "bring it on!" with Lonnie smiling and nodding in agreement. So I go online in search for a puzzle.

Now what I had in mind was to find a puzzle consisting of 5,000 pieces because I have never seen them do one that big in size. In my search I found the puzzle ‘Life’. So I went back to Ray and Lonnie to see if they were up to the challenge and of course they were. So we bought the puzzle and our maintenance man, Rick and I built a special table to hold a puzzle of this size and the members began to work on it. That is how this summer project came to be.

When the first section of the puzzle was started it was pretty much our main puzzle people working on it with them being Ray, Lonnie, Opal, Marian and a few others. But as word got around that the puzzle was the world’s largest commercial puzzle more members became involved. Also new members joined, including my sister Marlene, just to be able to work on the puzzle. It wasn’t long before Marlene fell into that category of our main puzzle people. I have been on staff here at the Center for over six years but never actually joined to be a member. But I finally did just so I could work on the puzzle as well as two other staff members, Mary Ann and Rick who also wanted to work on the puzzle as well. The first section was completed in 21 days.

When the second section was started strategies had been developed from working on the first section and with more members getting involved this section was completed in just 14 days. The third section was also completed in 14 days. During the time the third section was being worked on our local newspaper, the Monroe Evening News came to the Center to do an article about the puzzle. Much to our surprise the article along with a picture was put on the front page with a very nice write up. The article was in the July 25th edition. This drew more attention to our puzzle project as well as to our Center. We had people calling for directions to our Center so that they could come and see the puzzle. We had mothers bringing in their children just to see the puzzle. To a lot of the staff and members it was worth the effort just to see the look of awe on the faces of these children as well as the adults.

The fourth section was done in the fastest time. It was completed in just 8 days. I attribute this to a couple of reasons. There were more members involved with the puzzle on this section than the first three sections and our main puzzle people were putting in more hours in a day, including weekends, on the puzzle. When it came to closing time at the Center special arrangements were made just so they could stay longer to work on the puzzle. Most of the members working on the puzzle were in agreement that although this section was completed in the fastest time it was probably the hardest of all the sections. A lot of it had to do with the underwater city. There was very little variance in color and graphics. The last pieces of the puzzle put in were a part of this underwater city. So all in all the puzzle was started on June 14th at 10:00 a.m. and completed on August 10th at 9:00 p.m. taking a total of 57 days and 11 hours to complete.

Keep in mind that this puzzle project was intended to be a fun summer project. Completing this puzzle in fast time was really never an issue. I know that if it was, the members could have completed the puzzle in a much faster time. But the puzzle did serve its purpose. Members were brought together, new friendships were developed and the members who worked on the puzzle now have the feeling of accomplishment for being the first organization to complete the world’s largest commercial puzzle. After the completion of the puzzle our Assistant Director, Flo, threw a pizza party. I was not able to attend this party but from what I heard all who attended enjoyed it very much. Pictures were taken and members reminisced about their time spent on the puzzle. Also discussed was ways of preparing the puzzle so that it can be hung on a wall in the Center for display. I wanted it hung in my office but that didn’t go over well. I don’t blame them. It should be displayed for all to see and enjoy.

A lot of good things came out of this puzzle but I have only one problem. What can I come up with for our next summer project? I just know it has to be ‘BIG’.

Joe Hess
Frenchtown Senior Center

Frenchtown Senior Center

The following is a list of the Frenchtown Senior Center members who worked on the puzzle:

Marian Baker   Opal Fowler   Matt Lazette   Lora Robert
Barb Brancheau   Ruth Gotha   Donna Lazette   Deb Rose
Leroy Calmes   Joe Hess   Rick Lindsay   Evelyn Sander
Emma Couturier   Mary Holt   Mathew Mack   Frances Van Slambrouck
Marlene Cunningham   Erv Jaworski   Mary Ann Mack   Marion Van Slambrouck
Ray Dushane   Walter Kern   Neva Marceau   Howard Wellhousen
Frank DeSloover   Ed Kowalczik   Ellis Massamore   Rose Weschler
Lonnie Fowler   Michaelene Kowalczik   Dick Reiger  

IN THE NEWS:   See Frenchtown Seniors at MONROENEWS.COM

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