By CHRIS AGEE
Three first-place wins among the five local teams competing in last Saturday's regional Destination ImagiNation contest at Mineral Wells High School was not the only reason for celebration in Mineral Wells.
The positive economic impact associated with the visiting teams and families greatly benefited many local businesses.
Sam Patel, manager of Comfort Suites, said several guests stayed at his lodge during the event.
"We had about 25 people," he said, "kids and adults, everybody there just for the Destination ImagiNation."
He said he recognized a few of the faces from DI's 2012 regional event, also held in Mineral Wells.
"Some of them did stay with us before," he said.
Quinn Robinson, who directed Challenge A at the event, said every one involved was pleased with the local hospitality.
"All the feedback I've gotten from teams and team managers is, 'Why can't we come back for another year?'" he said.
Robinson agreed such events are beneficial to the participants and the greater community.
"I think it was great for the town," he said. "I'm certain it was great for the kids."
He explained DI bylaws limit such events to two consecutive years at the same location, though.
"We'll get back here one of these years," Robinson added.
Pastafina Manager Al Ukaj said his business saw a big spike in customer traffic because of DI.
"They helped us out on Saturday afternoon," he said. "We were a lot busier than we usually are."
He estimated between 75 and 100 customers came in during a break in the competition.
"It was mainly kids with their parents," he said. "It was good; they came in, enjoyed their time, ate, and left."
In addition to expressing gratitude for their patronage, Ukaj said everyone involved in the program was courteous and a pleasure to serve.
Mineral Wells Independent School District will send three teams – High School Challenge A, High School Challenge E and Middle School Challenge E – to compete in DI's state tournament event.