St Paul Winter Carnival Scavenger Hunt – fun and distancing – ends tomorrow I have four challenges left

I love the St Paul Winter Carnival. I can remember dragging three little girls to see the ice sculptures when they were young. I once saw a flash mob at the Winter Carnival. I remember us (me, Katie, Billy and my mom) hunting for the medallion with my mom’s friend Susie when we were little. (I don’t think clues mattered; mostly I think we met halfway.) I remember dragging my brother Billy to hunt for the medallion days after he had some surgery and a week before I had a baby – we had looked at the clues. We had shovels. We were in the wrong place. We must have looked pathetic!

The pandemic has changed so much. You can only drive through to see sculptures.  And parades and other gatherings have been cancelled. BUT they also started a new deal – scavenger hunts! There were three:

  1. St Paul PARK-emon Go (Family-Friendly)
  2. Saint Paul Past & Present: A Trip Into Its History and Notable Landmarks
  3. Shop, Dine, & Play: Your Guide to Saint Paul Fun & Attractions

We did the second one. That’s very much the royal we. I signed up with Monica with the cheesiest name ever – Nice Ice Ladies. One night Monica, Kevin and I talked about the clues. Mostly I did the research, which was fun. The questions are hard. Really hard, which is fun if you have a Master’s degree in Library Science and know the city fairly well. My big mistake was finding out that some team found everything less than 36 hours into the 11-day span of the game. On the one hand, I wasn’t in it for the prizes. I don’t even know what they were. On the other hand, that’s kind of demoralizing.

It reminded me of our favorite St Patrick’s Day event when we lived in Dublin – the St Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt. We were never going to win. (Kids aren’t that fast.) But we won lots of fun spot prizes, which kept us going. I get that might not be pandemic-friendly but it could be done through the app. Just if anyone is looking for my constructive criticism. (Prizes could be stickers or a mention on Twitter or a free beer token – nothing big!)

But really, I loved this scavenger hunt too. The process is you figure out the clues, which leads you to places. Then you answer in one of three ways depending on the clue. Either you answer a question, snaps a picture or “check in” with your location. They are super generous about accepting pictures, especially on a cold day. The locator can be trickier since GPS can be a little fickle.

I did most of the road work with my dad when I duped him on the way to our weekly Clam chowder at Joseph’s Grill. It was the old – hey can we just swing by Place X? Then I explained. And we drove around to different areas. What’s fun is that while I was juggling clues and answers and Google Map – dad was telling me stories about the different areas while we were driving. Stories from when he dated my mom and places where he used to meet her when she worked on the East Side and general St Paul history stories. We listened to a little Willie’s Roadhouse. It is very much a driving scavenger hunt, which was perfect for us since it was zero degrees!!

It’s always a good reminder that while I think I know St Paul, I only know what I know, which means downtown, Highland, Mac Groveland and parts of Midway. We saw at least one amazing view with Downtown St Paul in the foreground and Downtown Minneapolis is the background. I don’t want to be specific about any of the clues since the deadline for the hunt is tomorrow. And I have four clues left to fulfill. Three I’m sure I know the answer, I just need to deploy. The final one I’m hoping to figure out over a beer tonight and slide over the finishing line tomorrow in the nick of time – end on the drama of the challenge!

The pictures are things we saw that may or may not relate to the clues.

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