When Joe and Lasha Dennis visited family in Kansas City for Thanksgiving, they weren’t sure exactly what to expect. “My cousin and his wife said, ‘We have a fun thing that we want you guys to do, and we’re going to pay for it, but we’re not going to tell you what it is,’” Lasha Dennis said.   

Turns out, the family intended to lock the Dennises in a casino — for an hour, at least. “It was really cool,” she said. “Because I was with my cousins, it was like when we were kids we all would play and pretend we’re all locked in a room and we have to get out.”   

Plus, she said, “Our kids were super jealous.” So the family went back together.   

So-called “escape rooms” are popular entertainment in cities across America, but other than the real-life escapees of the old Brown County Jail, the experience has never been available in Brownwood. Now, the Dennis family is taking over the old jail space for the month of May to operate an escape room of its own called Break Out Brownwood.    

Small groups will have to find clues, solve riddles and put their heads together to escape the second-story jail space in an hour or less. The escape room will accept appointments from 4 to 10 p.m. every Thursday through Saturday in May, starting May 4, and can host up to four parties per night.   

Joe Dennis said the game can accommodate groups between three and nine people, though the ideal party size is six. Tickets are $25 per person, and half the proceeds will go to the Brown County Museum, which operates and maintains the jail facility.   

“Working with the museum has been really nice,” Joe Dennis said. Museum director Wanda Furgason said she’s happy for the exposure and excitement the event will bring for her organization. “It’s fantastic,” she said. “Our events committee goes through trying to think of ways to get people in here … so having someone else come up with an idea to get people in, that’s fantastic.”    

Furgason said she might have to plan her own escape. “I think they’re going to have us be guinea pigs,” she said. “I’m going to have to put on my thinking cap.”   

Joe Dennis, an Air Force veteran who now writes novels, said planning the escape room and its plot is a lot like writing a book. “Coming up with the story and coming up with the props and all that,” Lasha Dennis said, “that part has been fun.”   

Interested groups can now reserve a time slot on the Break Out Brownwood Facebook page by clicking the “book now” button. Break Out Brownwood can also be reached for questions, or to reserve a weeknight time slot, at breakoutbrownwood@gmail.com.   

The event is designed for participants ages 13 and up.