Alternative to the bar scene 

PlayDate Savannah offers fun and games

REACH WAAAAAY back into your childhood.

Remember how much fun it was to play Hungry, Hungry Hippos? Or Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em robots? Maybe board games were your forte: Scrabble, chess. Or action games such as Twister or Pictionary. Then there were video games, ranging from Pac Man to Super Mario Bros.

Now picture yourself playing those games today, while listening to music and enjoying food and drink. That’s what PlayDate Savannah is about — people over 21 playing games and having a good time.

When Savannah native Elizabeth Lipsey Hamilton moved back home a year and a half ago, she checked out the local nightlife. Clubs and bars offer most of the entertainment for adults, but Hamilton wanted something more. Then she heard about PlayDate.

The closest PlayDate event was in Albany, so Hamilton went to check it out. “I was just glued,” she says. “I knew instantly what I wanted for Savannah.”

Hamilton contacted Corey Haggray to see if he would be interested, and they signed up for nine hours of training in Atlanta. “Afterwards, I actually hosted the event in Atlanta,” she says. “Their average is 500 people.”

When Haggray and Hamilton hosted their first PlayDay Savannah in October, it brought in 215 people. “It poured down rain that Saturday,” Hamilton says. “And there were four weddings,” Haggray adds.

“Our average now is about 260 people,” Hamilton says. “We’re hoping to break 300 at the next event.”

Some people are drawn in after seeing pictures of past events at PlayDateSavannah.com. “Everybody has the same concept — pure old-fashioned clean fun,” Hamilton says. “Everybody has a good time.”

In addition to old favorites, there are new attractions, including Wii games. “You name it, we pretty much got it,” Hamilton says. “We have round tables set up with all the games and people try to figure out where to start,” she says. “The husbands come to play checkers, while the wives play everything else.”

Some games are more popular than others. At the end of the night, people have to be shooed away. “One night, we ran out of Uno cards and decks of regular playing cards for Spades,” Haggray says. “We’ve had to go back and buy more games because we have so many requests for them.”

PlayDate is a national company and Hamilton and Haggray bought a package to begin PlayDate Savannah. Although he’s enthusiastic now, Haggray was leery at first.

“I don’t like to gamble with my money, and there are all kinds of scams. Once I saw how the concept worked, I said it just might work in Savannah.”

So far, PlayDate has 10 locations throughout the United States, and will gain 15-20 more in the next year. “We’re doing something to redefine night life,” Hamilton says. Because alcohol is available, players must be over 21.

“People are tired of going to clubs,” Haggray says. “You get dressed up, go to a club and have a few drinks. You’re just standing around and looking. It’s old, dead, played out. Here, you come to play, spend just $10 and have fun the whole time.” cs

PlayDate Savannah

Upcoming events will be Dec. 27 and Jan. 3 8pm-2am at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5711 Abercorn St. $10. Free parking available if you use the pool-side entrance. 596-5801 or info@PlayDateSavannah.com

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Linda Sickler

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