Cooler Crew -- A History

Terry's picture

During the 1990’s, the St Paul Pioneer Press opened online discussion forums. These forums were called Water Coolers. The forums had discussion topics related to sports, politics, news, and current events. Each year, the Pioneer Planet – the online section of the Pioneer Press – opened a discussion forum as a media for hunters to discuss the clues for the Winter Carnival Medallion Hunt.

During the earlier years, one might find a few hundred posts during the hunt. As more hunters had computers, those numbers jumped. From 1997 to 1998, the number of posts increased from the hundreds to the 5-digit thousands. It was during the 1998 hunt the Cooler Crew was born.

The community spirit and teamwork displayed in the 1998 Pioneer Press Medallion Hunt thread was inspiring. The group of hunters found themselves at the end of a hunt not wanting to let go of new friendships and the camaraderie found on the Water Cooler board. The idea emerged to do what anyone would do in the middle of winter in Minnesota. A picnic in Cherokee was planned - the first Rehash Bash!

Among the potato salad, sloppy Joe medallions, coffee and desserts, the Pioneer Planet Water Cooler Crew met face to face on a chilly, Sunday, February afternoon. Representatives from the Pioneer Planet were there to record this phenomenon and Greg Sax, a native St. Paulite, then residing in Milwaukee, arranged to have the first “You Dig?” buttons available.

This group then decided it should have a website of its own. The Pioneer Planet agreed to sponsor a website, Greg Sax agreed to volunteer his time as webmaster and all that was now needed was a URL for this new site! After much discussion, a decision was reached. would be the site and this online community would be known as the Cooler Crew!

The rest of the history can be found woven among each year’s clues, images and stories at this website.

In 2002, Knight-Ridder, the owners of the Pioneer Press, decided to change the format and get rid of the discussion forums that had brought this group of hunters together. At that same time, the sponsoring of the website was dropped. The Water Coolers were gone.

But the spirit of the Cooler Crew was bigger than Knight-Ridder. A new place for online discussions was found and a new home for the site was arranged. Once we had the release of the domain name, the new webmasters, Ares, Marley King and Artemis the Huntress, put the website back online. Knight-Ridder took the Water Cooler away, but did not take the Cooler out of the Crew.

The Cooler Crew is an online community made up of super folks with a commonality that involves digging in parks in the dead of the winter and because we have this obsession in common, we find other parts of us that have commonality too. We believe that anyone who hunts is part of the Cooler Crew.  It has been our founding principal to welcome one and all.  We have always invited anyone with this obsession of digging in snow in the middle of winter to join with other hunters.  The friendships and camaraderie we find is the best!   Please join us!  You will be welcomed with open arms. 

We are lucky to have found a webmaster who is passionate about the hunt and has worked tirelessly to keep content up to date and in a format that is user friendly.  If you haven't explored the vast amount of information, hunt history and year round activities and hunts, take the time to do so.  It is truly amazing!!  Jason has shouldered the cost of this for many years as a labor of love.  It is time to step up and help defray the cost of his work, the cost of running all the equipment needed to keep the site running and backed up, his expertise, and his time.

 Alas, the Winter Carnival hunt lasts for a mere 12 days of the year. As we've grown, so has our passion for medallion hunts in general. After the short hunt in 2002, we had two years’ worth of mock hunt after mock hunt, with prize money put up by members of the group. Around 2004, we really started to get involved with the hunts organized by the various suburban festivals that occur over the summer. We track 115 festival hunts apart from the Winter Carnival hunt that occur throughout the year in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We're adding more all the time. And we participate in the vast majority of them, as is evidenced by the Hall of Fame.

 If you know of a hunt that we don't have on our list, it’s not a question of whether or not we should have it. We should. Period. We'd love it if you could help us out. If there's a hunt that we do have and we don't have clues for it for any given year, we'd also love it if you could help us out. Click the contact us link at the bottom of this page or any other page on this site!