Most people grow out of childish playground games when they leave school.
But one group of friends has managed to keep a game of tag going strong for 23 years, each participant inventing increasingly elaborate plans to avoid being 'It.'
The group of nine 40-somethings, which includes a chief marketing officer, a lawyer, and a priest, spend the month of February each year chasing each other around the country, hiding in bushes and breaking into each other's houses and workplaces.
Whoever is tagged last each February remains 'It' for the rest of the year, enduring the ridicule of the rest of the group.
The game originated back in high school, where the friends, from Spokane, Washington, would play tag during their breaks.
College and careers temporarily put a stop to their high jinks, but a school reunion in 1990 prompted the group to reinstate the competition as a way of keeping in touch.
Each player signed a 'Tag Participation Agreement,' agreeing to follow the rules of the game (which include no 'tag-backs', or tagging the player who has just tagged you), and the chase was on.
"You're like a deer or elk in hunting season," high-school teacher Joe Tombari told the Wall Street Journal, admitting that he sometimes locks the door of his classroom during off-periods and checks under his car before getting in it.
In one of the more extreme incidents in the mid-1990s, Tombari and his wife, then living in California, got a knock on the door from a friend.
A neighbor invited them to inspect his new car, but what they didn't know was that Father Sean Raftis, then the current 'It,' had flown in from Seattle and was hiding in the trunk.
He jumped out and tagged Tombari, whose wife was so shocked that she fell and tore a knee ligament.
"I still feel bad about it," said Father Raftis, who is now a priest in Montana. "But I got Joe."
In another instance, player Mike Konesky snuck into his friend Brian's house in the middle of the night to tag him.
When Konesky flicked on the bedroom lights, his partner yelled "Run, Brian!" but there was nowhere for Brian to escape.
This year, tech-company manager Konesky is 'It' once again and with February fast approaching, his teammates had better keep an eye out...