It was a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, and there was no better way to spend it than racing all over Miami’s Museum Park chasing crazy clues in the Herald Hunt 2018 – Clueless in Downtown.
They came from near and far. Miami Shores and Brickell. Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville. South Carolina and Las Vegas, even. For all we know there was interplanetary travel involved, maybe even Elon Musk’s orbiting Tesla if it could find a parking space.
That’s how excited people were for the Herald Hunt’s triumphant return to its hometown of Miami.
Studying the Map
The special Hunt section of The Miami Herald was an absolutely necessary item required to solve the puzzles. A smartphone was needed, too. Having a team was helpful, as evidenced by this year’s winners. Everything else – such as team t-shirts – was optional but definitely marked the experienced hunters from us noobs.
After jotting down the 5 coordinates for the five puzzles and studying the map to get our bearings, we’re off! Heading for 2N, next to Biscayne Bay, we found a wall with “Fine Art Canine Line Drawings” from “Doggy Obedience School” artists.
The clue was “one of these works stands apart. Unlike the others, it is not entirely a work of imagination; its fundamental structure is drawn from real life.”
Somehow we selected the correct drawing using the wrong structure. Initially, I was sure it was the Marquis condominium high-rise just across Biscayne Blvd. I even went so far as to visit the Compass booth (sponsors of this puzzle) to ask if they had any listings in the building. They do! (Contact me if you would like to see them) Finally, though, we found “the right perspective” and realized we were looking for Balcón de la Habana, by artist Juan Garaizabal.
And there was the “aha” moment we were promised.
Feeling emboldened, we headed to see the “Sexiest Presidents Alive or Dead”.
Identified by beauty contestant sashes, actors portraying the honorees bounded onto the platform in bathing attire. In order they were: Bill Clinton (the 42nd president); George W. Bush (the 43rd); Donald Trump (the 45th); George Washington (the first); Andrew Jackson (the 7th); and Ronald Reagan (the 40th).
“They’re lined up here exactly the way they are in the text. … You’ve got everything you need to figure it out right in front of you. But you’ve got a lot of competitors on this, so you might want to take a shot and text ahead. Get the picture? Text A HEAD!” Get it? We got it! After texting a photo of the big head to 424-345-1740, we received Lincoln in reply.
The anchor at Plaza de la Marina Española was NOT a clue, but that didn’t stop crowds from examining it closely.
Yoga Class with Sujal Patel
“You won’t get the benefit if you don’t focus on the form. Follow my instructions to the letter.” It took watching his yoga poses a couple of times before those words sunk in and we saw the “letters”: NLMVP. We knew “MVP” was “Most Valuable Player”, so a quick Google search revealed (former) National League Marlins player Giancarlo Santos #27.
Alright! We were ready to tackle those dancing foods now. What do Swiss Cheese, donuts and bagels have in common? Holes… Whole Foods… Whole Food advertisement in the special Hunt section (told you it was important).
Added up the prices. Nope. Added up the prices and the other numbers with each food item. Nope. Added up the date of the ad. Yes… but nope. Wholey Honey Nut Cheerios, Batman, these people are devious!
As a “Code Breaker”, though, we were clearly #cluelessindowntown. Dave Barry says Hunters will come up with “bizarre explanations for simple things, people will look at something that has absolutely nothing to do with the hunt… they will look at a tree and go “HAH!”” Well, we weren’t looking at a tree, but we were convinced that this little guy was pointing at a starting location in the waters of the old port. We tried placing the pencil point from the grid where his finger was pointing on the map. We tried standing in that spot and looking in the same direction. We examined the structure of the American Airlines Arena. Turns out we were looking on the wrong side of Museum Park. Had we turned around to look at one of my favorite places in Miami – the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science – we might have seen a giant pencil attached to the building and solved the puzzle for the 5th clue.
The End Game
At 3 p.m. Hunt designers Tom Shroder and Dave Barry took the stage and announced one final clue: “We will now state the final clue: Use only capital letters.”
That was easy: Tallahassee. But without the 5th clue, we had no hope of deciphering the End Game puzzle… and for a while it looked like no one would!
Heat Stat Sheet Least Tall
Eventually, three winning teams were announced:
Team T Rex: Jake Hartigan, Elena Hartigan, Michael Hartigan, Randi Faris, Josie Faris, Joy Colley, Max Maurente, Elizabeth Byrd, Elisabeth Cai-Pippin, Andy Weitzen,Neil Schmertmann
The Narwhals: Patrick Hunt, Jennifer Mennuti, Ilene Schnall, Janice Bergmann, Brad Vogelbach, Bernardo Lopez
The Great Escape Room: Scott Sakowitz, Amy Sakowitz, Howard Sakowitz, Mindy Sakowitz, Raul Davila, Mindy Rodney, Ed Schefen, Marjorie Marks, Halana Rodney, Nelson Rodney
For details on how they solved the End Game, check out the solutions for the 2018 Herald Hunt
Thank you Dave Barry, Tom Shroder, The Miami Herald, Museum Park and all of the people and sponsors that helped bring back the Herald Hunt! I am already looking forward to 2019.