2002 Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt

The 2000 Cooler Crew button
Fiddlesticks. A randier word might be used to describe the postsearch malaise of an early end to the hunt. We didn't even make it into the first weekend. Six clues. There's no need to blame the finders for being in the right place at the right time, but we can point blame at loose weather and unimaginative hiding techniques that wasted some very nice later clues. Congratulations to Sean and Mary Kay Hamilton. Welcome to treasure hunt immortality.
 
Hunt information
Dates:
First Clue:Sunday, January 20, 2002
Found on:Friday, January 25, 2002
Finders:
NameHometown
Mary Kay Hamilton
Sean Hamilton
Prize:
Maximum Prize:$10,000
Awarded Prize:$5,000
Location:
General Location:Merriam Park
Exact Location:On the ground in the middle of a baseball diamond
Concealer:Stuck to a tortilla chip can liner
Clues
Published on Sunday, January 20, 2002
There's snow, it's cold, winter's finally here
Let the medallion search in you light a spark
Far and wide take your hunt, have no fear
You can find it in a St. Paul park
Explanation:
The search is on and the Winter Carnival medallion has been buried in a St. Paul public park.
Our Thoughts:
In terms of what's definitely being given away, it's the usual. We get the basic intro that keeps people from digging up Powderhorn, Loring, and Theodore Wirth. It's a St. Paul thing, folks. The pacing and tone of the clue is different than in past years, which could indicate a new writer. As a stand-alone rhyme, it's actually quite good.
 
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Published on Monday, January 21, 2002
You may knit your brows on this one
Or just trek up and down every hill
Work your brain, your legs, it will be fun
If you have some time to kill
Explanation:
The hilly contours of the park are described.
Our Thoughts:
A knitted hat jumps to mind, but the official take on the clue is a description of the "hilly contours of the park." Lame.
 
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Published on Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Time and tide, fun and slide
Down the hill, far from the woods
Show that carnival hunter's pride
And you may trip over the goods
Explanation:
There is a popular neighborhood sliding hill at this park, and the medallion is hidden in an area down from the sliding hill and away from the trees in the park.
Our Thoughts:
One clever theory had us looking at "time and tide" as detergents, turning "time" into Era to match Tide. That's fun. But this was just a simple location clue, pointing out that the hiding spot was down from a popular sliding hill. The notion of "woods" in Merriam Park is laughable compared to a Como or Cherokee, but it was thrown in for good measure to rhyme with "goods." How 'bout hoods or neighborhoods? Or better yet, something with more rhyming options?
 
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Published on Wednesday, January 23, 2002
"Hey, hey," you say, "We're game to play
But give us a tip -- be fair!"
OK, OK, here's all we'll say
Look for something in and on the air
Explanation:
Look for something "in and on the air." From this park, you can see a tower to the north. It is "in" the air, standing tall; it is "on" the air because it is a broadcasting tower.
Our Thoughts:
We thought baseball. From a foul tip to staying fair, it seemed to fit. Throw in Mark Michalski's fun fact that Willie Mays was known as the "Say Hey Kid" and there's plenty of diamond for our rough search. We also knew that our wandering eyes should probably be looking for radio towers as the most likely clue, as towers are in the air and radio is on the air. Turns out that the tower is all that was supposed to be given away here. Clue writers: give us more credit. We're an intelligent lot and we want to have fun with your clues. If history is any indication, someone is going to accidentally find it anyway, so why not amuse us noodle monkeys to keep us rabid year in and year out?
 
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Published on Thursday, January 24, 2002
Take your wreck to the park n rec
Park on the street or in the lot
Look for a place with lots of space
To amuse a tiny tot
Explanation:
"Park n rec" refers to recreation center at Merriam Park and "space for tots" to the children's playground there.
Our Thoughts:
I give the clue writers credit for coming up with new ways to remind us that amusement areas for children are just about always present in parks. That clue pops up every year, bringing shovels around playground equipment, when this is often just a sight line clue. Also, it is assumed that you can "see" the medallion from both street and lot parking. The "park n rec" portion of this clue is helpful, too. Few St. Paul parks are also listed in maps as recreation centers (or playgrounds). You've got your Como, Langford, and Newell (parks) along with your North Dale, Hazel Park, and Oxford (rec centers). The Rand McNally map officially lists Merriam as a Park & Rec Area.
 
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Published on Friday, January 25, 2002
Before we ever hid this jewel
We devised ways to make it tough
So not just any fool
Can find this diamond in the rough
Explanation:
It is a "diamond in the rough" in two ways. It is worth a lot, and buried in the snow' and it lies near a baseball diamond.
Our Thoughts:
The "diamond in the rough" is the baseball clue we found on our own earlier. The clue writers should be forced to eat oak leaves for boasting that they "devised ways to make it tough." This was the last clue published when the medallion was found.
 
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Scorch the earth, post a sentry
You're so good at this it's scary
As Holmes would say, "it's elementary"
And also, we add, post-secondary
Explanation:
There is an elementary school and universities nearby.
Our Thoughts:
This clue has some meat to it and likely would've brought more snoopers to Merriam.
 
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It's a place where you would think
More weddings would be there grace
But grooms in blue and brides in pink
Should look another place
Explanation:
Pardon us for this one. What do you do to couples at a wedding? "Marry-em." And once you know the name of this park, "you would think" it would be a place for nuptials. But it isn't. Got it?
Our Thoughts:
Even the clue writers knew this was silly. Weddings involve marriage from which we're supposed to get "marry 'em" for Merriam. Silly is alright, because silly is fun.
 
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In searching for this treasure
You may think "x" marks the spot
But if finding is your pleasure
Be assured an x there's not
Explanation:
There is no X marking the treasure spot. But the word "marks" is important, because the graceful steeple of St. Mark's Catholic Chuck is visible to the south.
Our Thoughts:
Following up clever-silly with the insanely random. All focus is on "x" but we're supposed to be looking at "mark" for St. Mark's Catholic Church, which is visible to the south.
 
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It's worth wads our little puck
So lonely out in the snow
But if you have a little luck
You'll know just where to go
Explanation:
Word-play-time again: "worth wads" is a play on the poet the nearby school was named after - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. "Puck" refers to a nearby hockey rink.
Our Thoughts:
This clue is one of the most impressive of 2002, as it doesn't insult the noggin'. It's a word play on "worth wads" to give us Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. A nearby school is named after him. The use of "puck" to indicate a nearby hockey rink is a throwaway. Because nothing from the Pioneer Press explanations ever gave away the lid of a tortilla chip can liner (Pringles?), we'll call that our item clue. They're kind of puckish. But going back to Longfellow—now that's solid.



This is as good a place as any to share something from Robert J. Lenhardt, who after Clue 3 delivered this nugget to the webmaster's e-mail inbox: "'Time and tide' made me think of some quote; I found one from Macbeth ('time and tide stay for no man') but don't know how it would fit as to giving us a clue about the park or a street name. Someone else found a Longfellow quote that said something like man sitting around 'waiting for time and tide'. Anyway, if the clue writer got that from Longfellow, we find it impressive to have clue 3 give away such a small park.
 
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To be more wild, not more mild
Is the way to treasure perfection
Up the road you come—thirteen's the sum
To our rewarding intersection

Sliding hills are found nearby
And oak trees, they're aplenty
In your walk, unless you can fly,
Find steps that double twenty
Explanation:
We're getting you there now! To be "more wild" is a reference to Wilder Street, which borders the park. "Thirteen is the sum" of the "9" and "4" in Interstate 94, which runs nearby. We refer again to sliding hills, but also to "steps that double twenty," a long wooden stairway at the park's entrance.
Our Thoughts:
"More wild" gives us Wilder Street and you get 13 from 9 + 4 (or Interstate 94). A reminder of sliding hills (for the third time in 11 clues?) is followed by a count-up of a long, wooden stairway at the park's entrance. Overall, this is the kind of clue that should get the masses scrambling. Nicely done. Too bad that this and the next wonderful clue were completely wasted.
 
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Kids are tired? Carry 'em
Self doubts on the rise? Bury 'em
Dead squirrels in your way? Carrion
Looking for the right park? Merriam

Slide down the hill and get your fill
Of a ballfield -- a wide open space
North of the school, south of the ice
Look hard near second base
Explanation:
Merriam Park is the spot. ("Marry-'em"? Now do you get it?) Down the sliding hill and onto the wide-open baseball field, north of the school and south of the hockey rink, in the general area of second base.
Our Thoughts:
It may be worth a riffle through the clues of yore, but it is believed that this is the first time dead squirrels have made an appearance in a treasure hunt clue. Fantastic stuff. If it had made it this far and the snow still hadn't dumped the field, Merriam would have been a giant mud pit befitting a tractor pull with second base serving as center sty for the big hogs to bump snouts in search of the magic blue truffle.
 
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