They’re trading their shovels for rakes this year for the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt
Some might even bring leaf blowers.
That’s right: In this year bereft of snow, it’s time for the annual Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt, presented by Fury Jeep.
This oh-so-St. Paul tradition turns the east metro into one big, friendly small town, where all kinds of people come together over a coveted medallion — and brave the cold to do it.
The maximum prize: a cool $10,000 cash.
Year 68 of the hunt officially begins Sunday, with enough daily clues — from a clue writer who’s the best-kept secret in St. Paul — to run through Jan. 31.
But amid this brownout, will it be another 12-clue hunt? Veteran searchers hope so, but this year’s lack of snow is a game-changer, they say.
“In order to (go all 12 days of the hunt) they’ll come up with a clever natural disguise and … very vague clues,” said longtime Pioneer Press Treasure Hunter Jesse Anibas, who runs a history website about the hunt.
He also predicts a red-herring clue or two, to complicate things and send searchers to an assortment of parks.
And that dearth of deep snow could change thing up — drawing many more hunters than usual.
“Snow scares the novices away,” said Steve “Mapguy” Worthman, the 2015 medallion winner who every year updates a book profiling Ramsey County parks for huntability.
Either way, they look forward to seeing all kinds of friends — old and new — on the hunt.
“I hope it gets to the point where you get a bunch of people out to the park. I hope there’s the camaraderie, and if it’s found at clue 6, that (camaraderie) doesn’t happen,” Anibas said. “So I hope for a long hunt.”
HOW THE PIONEER PRESS TREASURE HUNT WORKS
Since 1952 — when the publisher of the St. Paul Pioneer Press buried a tiny treasure chest telling the finder to report to the paper for a $1,100 prize — the hunt has challenged readers to solve daily clues and find the treasure, which in recent years has looked like an acrylic hockey puck.
The medallion is hidden in a Ramsey County park or public space — a space as small as Shoreview’s Shamrock Park or as large as Battle Creek Regional Park in Maplewood.
After Sunday, clues become available about 11:45 nightly at TwinCities.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/PPtreasurehunt.
Early copies of the printed newspaper, bearing the new clue, will be distributed nightly at Shamrocks, 995 W. Seventh St. in St. Paul, starting Sunday. Copies are the first off the press and can be delivered anytime after 10:30 p.m. Scrambled clues post at TwinCities.com at 10:45 p.m.
A bonus this year at Shamrocks: You can get the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt beer (and a $7.95 burger during the hunt and Winter Carnival), said the bar’s co-owner, Michael Runyon.
You can jump into the fun online and be part of a discussion with experienced, casual and even armchair hunters at the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt Forum, facebook.com/groups/TreasureHuntForum. Already hunters are sharing stories, theories and photos.
To keep up to date on the go, check out our app on iPhone or Android. It has clues, news, a map of past parks, plus links to our Facebook page and discussion group.
Hunters may also sign up at twincities.com/treasurehunt to receive an email alert each time a new clue is posted.
And, as always, searchers can call the Treasure Hunt Hot Line — 651-228-5547 — to learn whether the medallion has been found.
The lucky/most skilled winner can nab the maximum prize by doing the following:
Complete rules are at TwinCities.com/treasurehunt.
And please remember the hunt motto: “Search … Don’t Destroy.” The Pioneer Press will halt the hunt if public property is destroyed. Also, steer clear of these places, where the medallion will never be hidden: the state Capitol grounds, Como Zoo & Conservatory, golf courses, under ice-skating surfaces or any artificial turf surface or construction site.