Former Whitehall High School students Justin Sommer, Benjamin Bush and Luke Szewczak have taken their love for Monopoly and added a hometown touch with Copolopoly.
“The idea came one day when my friends and I were looking for something to do,” Sommer said. “We got on the topic of all the different versions of Monopoly, and one of them brought up Lehigh Valley Monopoly. We thought it might be fun if there was a Whitehall or Coplay version of the game as well. We decided to go with a Coplay version because of its small-town feel.”
The game took the trio roughly three years to finish as the gang started in the summer of 2013 and finished up the project in the late fall of 2016. As busy college students, the friends worked on it sporadically throughout the time period.
“Personally, we like to have a side project to work on. It gives us something to do, and we’d imagine other people would appreciate that, too,” Sommer explained.
The project cost the group around $135 in total — with the property cards printed for about $10, 3-D printed pieces for $60, board for $25 and the box, which was custom built, for about $40.
The game itself replaces houses and hotels with sheds and garages. Chance and Community Chest cards become Opportunity and Mayor’s Pocket cards. Go, Jail, Free Parking and Go to Jail locations are replaced with The Only Green Light in Coplay, Whitehall (as a joke for Jail), Ironton Rail Trail and Exiled to Whitehall. The currency is custom, named Bundra Bucks after the former Coplay Mayor Joseph Bundra (who was in office at the time the project began), with pictures of major landmarks and public buildings.
Railroads were replaced with the four main roads in Coplay: Chestnut, Hokendauqua, Ruch and Second streets. Emergency Services like Coplay Borough police and fire departments replace Electric Company and Water Works. Properties are public buildings, places or businesses.
Whitehall-Coplay Press even gets a mention on a card, having the player pay $75 for a subscription.
“Our original thought was to make a few copies for ourselves and maybe one for the borough,” Sommer said. “But after the first one took so long to make, and it turned out more expensive than we expected, we decided this would be the only copy.”
The trio has been working on projects together since they met at Whitehall High School. Sommer explained it all began in Mr. Hessinger’s wood shop class.
“One of the projects in that class was to create a game of your choosing,” he said. “We would say that probably planted the seeds in us to later come up with the idea for Copolopoly. Since then, we have worked on many other side projects, including building a go-cart, mini- and full-scale remote-controller hovercrafts. In the future, we plan to build more advanced equipment, notably using electronics.”
The three young men have a bright future. Sommer is a recent graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in information technology. Bush and Szewczak are both looking to earn a degree in mechanical engineering. Bush enters his final semester at University of Pittsburgh, and Szewczak is a junior at University of Delaware.