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Interview Series – Chris Sparks, Frederick Alderman Candidate for the City of Frederick

Interview Series – Chris Sparks, Frederick Alderman Candidate for the City of Frederick

So, this conversation was a blast!!!

Chris Sparks, the owner of Frederick’s most fun escape room stopped by to chat with me today! I obviously recommend trying out one or all of the escape rooms at Surlocked In but today’s stream was all about entrepreneurism, leadership, storytelling, and the future of the City of Frederick.

I think the most notable and memorable traits about Chris are the positive light Chris shines everywhere and the way Chris uses that light to inspire others. For example, Surlocked In is a business that successfully evolved very quickly in order to survive the shelter in place restrictions that were put in effect throughout most of 2020 and the first half of 2021. I have not heard Chris complain one time about this or make one negative comment about the restriction. In fact, I cannot recall Chris ever chatting with me about this. Chris is always focused on inspiring others and building them up so they can be the hero of the story.

When it comes to planning the escape rooms, Chris makes sure to focus on the customer because they are the main characters of the story and, while the customers feel like they are puzzled with all of the fun riddles thrown their way in order to escape, the real puzzle to solve is for Chris and the Surelocked In team to understand why a customer doing the escape room does not just get up and leave because the door remains unlocked the whole time! To stay current and on top of the latest trends, Chris studies other escape rooms, attends conferences, and networks with other escape rooms on a national level so the experience at the Surelocked In is something the customers walk away thinking that the experience is something they will never forget.

The one word Chris uses to describe himself is “storyteller.” This is because, throughout all of his life, every experience Chris had can be told through a story. There is incredible power in the stories to create memories and it takes a big mind to be able to tell a story. We only have so much time to write a story and be remembered but Chris is able to tell great stories because, to him, stories are all about patterns.

When it comes to Chris’s idea of next-generation leadership, Chris and I share the same thoughts on inspiring others to tell their story by adopting a service over self mentality. Per Chris, the previous generations were all about “how” and/or what are the steps needed to take in order for one to be a leader. Chris discusses that somewhere along the line, the question evolved from “how” to “why” and/or why do you want to help, why do you want to be a leader, etc. If you are a “how” type person, you are typically focused on the steps, accreditations to be a leader, and how to accomplish a task. In contrast, if you are a “why” type person, usually, the steps and tasks no longer matter. The focus becomes the actual person and the experiences which grow the leader into a vocation instead of focusing on managing task after task. Service over self.

We then transitioned the conversation towards Chris’ campaign to be the next Alderman at the City of Frederick. We discussed the commitment, the experiences, and the passions Chris has to help Frederick use all of the available resources to grow and flourish. The ideas were next level and I think easily within reach.

One interesting point brought up by Chris was that at the moment, Frederick has more retirees than it does students enrolled in public schools. Per Chris, this is not a bad thing but it is something the elected officials must look at strategically as a puzzle they need to solve. If we plan now, we can put an infrastructure in place to help solve the transportation problem that comes along with someone who is no longer safe to drive. We can plan for housing and help someone have a local place to move if navigating stairs become a challenge. These are real problems that need to be solved and I think it is wonderful to hear a candidate talk about designing a future community that allows one to age in place within the community. We all need each other!

For the transportation puzzle, Chris has a brilliant idea: the Free Frederick Flyer. This is a concept and transportation system that would connect Downtown Frederick with the Golden Mile, East Street, and Shab Row to make the City of Frederick more easily accessible and help someone experience the city; not just commute through it. For the funding puzzle, Chris had another brilliant idea: make the City of Frederick the tourism destination of Western Maryland to maximize tourism revenue and transform Downtown Frederick into the Market Street Mall.

We covered so much more than mentioned above and I hope to have Chris on the stream again in the future. Thank you for taking the time to tune in and I am really looking forward to the next time we get to catch up with Chris Sparks!!

Chris is the founder and owner of Surelocked In Escape Games on Market Street! If you have visited downtown in the last 5 years to play an escape room, a scavenger hunt, or some other unique game, you have crossed paths with Chris! 

Running as the voice of the next generation on the Board of Alderman, Chris will be bringing new perspectives and ideas to the forefront of Frederick to help take the lead in designing and implementing innovative policies to help keep Frederick on track for generations to come.  

Here is the contact info and all of the links for Chris: 

Chris Sparks


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About me and the ? 

Hello, I’m Peter!  I have been in the real estate industry since 2013 and because of the help and support from my fantastic friends and family, I was able to start one of the only independent real estate brokerages in the area.  We are located in Maryland and serve clients nationwide. So cool!

At the end of the day, I want to be able to lead a life where I have time for my family, I am able to help others, have fun in life, and support the community through education, connections, philanthropy, and advocacy. 

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