VIRGINIA — You could say Diana Brennan is a Monopoly fanatic.
Childhood board games lasted neither hours nor days but a month at time, she said on a recent afternoon at her Virginia home.
Today Brennan has a collection of Monopoly boards, including a Beatles version. Her favorite is the vintage 1970s edition.
That in mind, it seems perfectly natural for the Biwabik native to have a giant Monopoly board painted on her driveway.
It’s a virtual copycat of a colorful ’70s board. The existing crease down the center of the driveway’s cement mimics where the board would fold in half. Brennan, its main creator, took her time to assure the crease landed precisely on the “propriety lines” drawn on the board.
The game has everything needed to play, from big, laminated paper money to appropriately sized token pieces — a red top hat, a toy wheelbarrow, a child’s rain boot, an iron (yes, she cut off the electrical cord).
Brennan also has a pair of large wooden dice, along with birdhouses she snagged for a good price and spray painted red and green to represent the game’s houses and hotels.
The board has generated quite a lot of favorable attention from neighbors and passersby of her house at Fifth Avenue South and Eight and One-Half Street.
She gets asked most frequently: “But why?”
Her reply: “Why not?”
The 17-by17-foot Monopoly board, however, probably would not exist if it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brennan’s 22-year-old daughter, Samantha, who lives and works down in the Twin Cities, was up north for a visit in June, when indoor seating was not yet allowed in Minnesota’s dining establishments because of the virus. “We couldn’t go out to lunch,” said Brennan.
Brennan’s daughter has Asperger syndrome and is extremely artistic, a common characteristic of the condition on the autism spectrum, Brennan said. The duo was looking forward to the creative endeavor, something fun to do at home.
Besides, she said, what better way to socially distance and soak up the sun’s Vitamin D than by doing one of Brennan’s favorite activities — playing a board game — outside and on a big scale.
“The math part took so long,” she said. “It was supposed to be an afternoon project,” but by the time Brennan figured out the measurements, Sam had to return to her home.
Left on her own, Brennan determined the board should be painted on the driveway rather than drawn in chalk. She bought upwards of 15 cans of paint and got to work, much of the design accomplished from memory.
Brennan also enlisted the help of a local friend, Mike Moe, who painted the iconic Mr. Monopoly AKA Rich Uncle Pennybags on the board, along with the police officer, the jail and inmate and the community chest.
She drew by hand the 20-by-22-inch title deed “property cards,” laminated them, outfitted them with cable ties and installed hooks on her garage door so they could be displayed for all players to see. Poster board was also used for the Chance and Community Chest cards placed on the board.
Brennan only completed the project days ago, and the game has yet to be christened. She has enough pieces for six to eight players, but for now will limit it to four because of COVID-19. It was supposed to be a two-hour, $5 project. Instead, it’s been a six-week effort costing at least $400, though she believes it was all worthwhile.
Brennan has heard neighborly suggestions of charging people to play, but because of the pandemic she has no formal plans yet for using the board, which will be coated in sealant to hopefully last through the winter, she noted.
The Monopoly enthusiast said she wishes the notebooks her family once used to keep track of their games were still around. “You could go into debt,” so the games lasted for weeks, she said with a grin. Hasbro, which acquired Monopoly from Parker Brothers in 1991, says the longest game ever played lasted 70 days.
“This was a fun project,” Brennan said. Aside from so much time spent crouched on the cement, “I adored every aspect of it.”