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In a haunt, not so long ago….

Red Hat Enterprises, Inc. isn’t some corporate giant. We’re a small company with big dreams. All it takes is a dream to start, of course. And well, our dreams were all over the place, on the weird side, and included creating things no one ever had. Red Hat technically became a company in 2017 with the quick birth of Gone In 60 Escape Games but its roots started way back with Matt Ruder, President of Red Hat, recognizing that he needed a better way to manage the volunteer actors at the Dungeon of Darkness Haunted House in Pekin, Illinois. With the help of a technical colleague, a program was created to help with communication in 2009. That program, named Haunt Scheduler, was officially a business in 2014. Knowing Matt from volunteering at Dungeon of Darkness - Sara Fickes, Vice President and co-owner started to help market Haunt Scheduler in the beginning. It has grown from a small messaging program to scheduling, time keeping, costume and makeup management. It is a one-of-a-kind web-based tool for attraction owners and managers of all haunt sizes.

Matt and Sara (and friends) and everything haunt

Fast forward a bit to 2015 and escape rooms starting to trickle out from the big cities and into haunt trade shows and conventions. Matt, ever the visionary, was interested from the moment he heard about it. After completing an escape room, Matt and Sara left exhilarated. They loved the challenge but were extremely disappointed in the realism of the set design. We knew we could bring Peoria an immersive and therefore amazing, fun new form of entertainment.

In March of 2017 (with a bit of luck, good friends, and good timing) opening Gone In 60 Escape Games was made possible. Gone In 60 opened three short months later on June 30, 2017 with two rooms, The Coven and The Contagion. In the beginning of 2018, we set out to build the 3rd room, The Morgue. Matt and Sara wanted it to be a room that wow’d and excited even the most experienced players. Building a realistic escape room from concept to creation proved to be quite the challenge, especially since Matt and Sara were still working their full-time jobs. So, in the summer of 2018, they decided to take the <gulp> risk and work solely for the business. This helped them (keep their sanity and) get The Morgue finished and (finally) open in mid-September 2018. A 4th room is already in the works.

Matt and Sara and Gone In 60 team!

Now working for themselves, Matt and Sara sought ways to grow the business. In May of 2018, Matt and Sara attended a trade-show for Haunt Scheduler and was introduced to axe throwing. Intrigued by the unique fun and similarities in business models, they started researching how to bring it to Peoria. Many trials and tribulations (mostly lack of funding) later, Matt and Sara persevered and started construction in January in The Block development right next door to Gone In 60. In April of 2019, Gone Axe Throwing will be open.

Gone Axe Throwing progress

And that's just the beginning…

Created By
Sara Fickes
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Credits:

Sara Fickes

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