It's the 1993 Treasure Hunt, and this video puts you there

St. Paul Pioneer Press - 01-24-2014

1993 Treasure Hunt: A backstory


The video begins outside the St. Paul Pioneer Press headquarters. Cedar Street is clogged with cars, and a thick line of people stretches down the block.

A timestamp says "12:26 a.m., Feb. 7, 1993."

It's Treasure Hunt time, and years before clues would be released online. Everybody is waiting for a hot-off-the-press newspaper containing the hunt's ninth clue.

The shouting begins when the first lucky hunters bolt from the lobby of the building.

"Read the clue out loud!" a young voice yells.

"I had to wait for an hour, you guys are gonna wait for an hour," a man replies.

Jesse Anibas, the man holding the briefcase-size camera, keeps filming as horns honk, cars speed off, and another night of Treasure Hunt chaos ensues.

Anibas knows as much about the hunt as anybody. The 47-year-old White Bear Lake man is the author of "The Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt History," published in 2005, and maintains the fact-laden Treasure Hunt Headquarters site at

But back in 1993, he was just a 27-year-old novice hunter when he decided to videotape the spectacle playing out in front of him.

"I don't know why I decided to pull out the camera," he said. Maybe it was to show his family back in Black River Falls, Wis., what his new infatuation was all about.

"I think when I showed them the videotape, I think they were surprised at how crazy this whole thing was," he said.

Jump ahead two nights, and Anibas is in the thick of the hunt at Hidden Falls Park. The last clue is being released -- which usually pinpoints the medallion's location -- and hundreds of people strike at the snow with shovels as cars stream into the riverside park.

"When people started congregating, I threw the rake in the trunk. I didn't think I was lucky enough to find (the medallion), so I might as well film," he said.

Fellow White Bear Lake residents Tom Opatz, Phil Sinn and Mark Nicklawske eventually turned up the puck -- frozen into a diaper -- and won $5,000.

Anibas said it was the first time he had hunted through the final clue, and "the first time I had seen that madness."

Did he glean any lessons from what he saw?

"The only thing I learned was, pay attention to your toes," he said. "People were territorial. One shovel just kept coming closer and closer."