The Herald Hunt is coming up next month, and for all of you that can get to it, I highly recommend going.
What is the “Herald Hunt”? That’s a pretty tough thing to describe…. Imagine a giant puzzle game where you and your closest 10,000 friends show up and try and make sense of the clues. You wander around a location in Miami doing everything from trying to count people in rat costumes, decipher letters and numbers on giant balloon animals to trying to make sense of giant billard balls (see the picture)
Yes, that’s me, from the 1994 Tropic Hunt. So, how did I get my picture on the front page of the Miami Herald (Dade Edition) without committing some sort of crime? Well, let me tell ya.
We started off in an area where four signs were erected, each with a number and a message that said “It’s not love, it’s body heat”. The signs were at the compass points, one north, south, east and west. Dave Barry came on the radio of LOVE 94.5, and started the Tropic Hunt (that’s what it was called back then). Basically, you get a hint about where to go, and then you’re off on your own.
My wife suggested that I tune the radio to 98.7, to see what we could hear. I tuned the radio headset I was wearing and listened — There was a evangalist speaking from a church. I listened a while longer and — it suddenly stopped! The next thing I heard was “Welcome to the Tropic Hunt Square Dance!” The caller on the radio said that you had to face a certain number to start, and then they started calling directions for what you had to do with the numbers.
Now, imagine the sight…. I started turning around in place facing the signs and I was listening to something no one else could hear. That must have looked pretty wierd. I did it twice to be sure and then went to consult with the rest of the group about what I had found. I started talking to them, when a really tall man leaned over to listen too. I said, “Who are you?”
He told me, “I’m with your group!”
I said, “I don’t think so….” and went further away. I explained the solution to the group. Then the tall man came over again to ask my name and where I worked. I asked him what it was for, and he said that he was covering the Tropic Hunt that year for the Herald. He and a photographer followed us around for the rest of the day.
Sometime during the afternoon, I asked, “So, how did you pick us?” He said that we looked like we knew what we were doing. We actually did that year… We solved all the initial puzzles in less than two hours. Unfortunately we ended up not getting the right answer for the last puzzle due to our lack of knowledge of billards. Doh!
After that year, we moved away, and haven’t been to the Tropic Hunt (which has now been renamed the Herald Hunt) since. A lot of the main team from that year (The “Blind Mice”) still participate, and I’m hoping they win!