There were 114 people who showed up at The Vue on 30A Monday night — many in strange-looking attire. And by evening's end, more than half of those lined up against the wall with eyes closed and outstretched “paws.”
After taking a sleuth's oath, the tooth of a hound was place in their hands as well as a pin identifying them as members of the local Sherlock Holmes Society.
Once a year around the world, Sherlock Holmes chapters meet to honor to the immortal sleuth. While an attendance analysis is still under way, this year may have drawn more newcomers than usual thanks to the global popularity of the BBC series “Sherlock.”
There are estimated to be more than 1,020 clubs worldwide and six are in Florida. Most groups were males only in the beginning. Our local Beach Hounds chapter, named after “Hound of the Baskervilles,” can be found on the national listing website.
This local fan club was formed in 2005 by 18 charter members. Several of those attended Monday night to celebrate the birthday of the sleuth, who according to most experts, would have turned 160 in 2014.
Following a social hour, guests dined on traditional British fare of fish and chips, and bangers and English peas.
After dinner, the highlight of the evening was hearing a real unsolved mystery presented by guest speaker John T. Andrews, a U.S. Homeland Security Foreign Counter and Domestic Intelligence Specialist who teaches at Florida State University. He spoke about the suspicious death of a U.S. assistant attorney from the Attorney General’s office. Guests were encouraged to offer their opinions on who they thought committed the crime.
Following initiation of new members into the society, candles were lit on a cake in celebration of Sherlock Holmes's birthday.
This was the eighth annual meeting of the Beach Hounds Chapter, which was brought to South Walton by local Sherlock Holmes enthusiast Chick Huettel. Growing each year, the chapter now has 140 members. In Memphis, Huettel was a member of the “Memphis Giant Rats of Sumatra" club.
For more information about the club email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It was quite an affair last evening," said charter member Joe Stanko, "... even Mrs. Hudson would have enjoyed it ... of course she would have been mostly in the kitchen ..."
The Vue had reservations called in for 124 people Monday night and had to turn several away.
"We do this because it's fun and to acquaint people with the brilliant writings of [Arthur Conan] Doyle," said Huettel.