BY MINDY MATEUSZCZYK
When Chris Whitehouse moved his family to Champlin from Blaine four years ago, little did he know all the good fortune that would befall him. Last year he won $100 for having his design chosen as the official Father Hennepin Festival button. This year, his love affair with Father Hennepin Festival continued as he participated in the medallion hunt. He’d taken a shot at it in 2011 but came up short.
This year was his lucky year. As he faithfully visited SuperAmerica in Champlin each day, not only for the daily clue but for bonus clues, he started to piece together the medallion’s hidden location.
"Many of the clues talked about baseball, then about throwing a brick," said Whitehouse. "I interpreted that to be a basketball term so I narrowed it down to parks with both baseball fields and basketball courts."
Whitehouse said he believes some of the clues may have been purposely intended to sway people to look in Andrews Park, particularly because of the "brick" clue and clues about a "new place to picnic" the current brick selling fundraiser at that park for the new improvements planned there including a splash pad and new picnic shelter.
He made his way to Oak Creek Park about a day and a half before others caught up to him there in hot pursuit of the elusive medallion. Because of specific words scattered within the clues, he was certain he was in the correct location. Now he just needed to find the precise hiding spot. He searched high and low, with his three children in tow.
"They would help me look for a few minutes then run off and play on the playground," said Whitehouse. "It was actually a pretty fun family thing to do."
In all the years that SuperAmerica has sponsored the medallion hunt, it has never gone past the Sunday of the festival. SuperAmerica Manager Debi Eik said they were starting to get a little nervous as Saturday afternoon approached.
Whitehouse said the hunters were anxious too, as about 20 of them crowded into the SuperAmerica, awaiting the afternoon bonus clue.
It was a quote from Yukon Cornelius from the movie, "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" that read:
"We’ll have to outwit the fiend with our superior intelligence."
Whitehouse knew he was at a slight disadvantage working alone as some of the clue receivers in SuperAmerica called up their hunting partners already in the park to relay the clue.
Still unclear of its meaning, Whitehouse headed for home intending to watch his children’s copy of the movie to see if he could gather more insight. Then it occurred to him to Google the movie’s script from his phone. That’s when the pieces of the puzzle fell together for him.
In the movie, after the quote that was the clue, Rudolph asks, "How?"
The next line is, "Douse your nose and run like crazy!"
"I took that to mean cover your nose and that’s what you would do if something stinks. The one thing at a park that may stink is a porta potty," said Whitehouse, who was mentally kicking himself for wasting time as he turned his car around and made his way back to Oak Creek Park. As he started for the porta potty, he saw a couple high school guys walking away from the porta potty with their hands in their pocket. He was sure they’d found it before him but when he asked they said they had not.
Whitehouse reached under the platform supporting the porta potty and recovered the medallion about 2 to 3 inches in, covered a bit by dirt.
"It wasn’t immediately visible," he said. "In fact, I had already looked there once and others told me they had looked there too but hadn’t found it. It wasn’t super easy to see. I guess nobody was eager to get too close to the porta potty."
As the winner, Whitehouse earned $500 from the medallion hunt sponsors, SuperAmerica.
"We appreciate SuperAmerica’s longstanding support and sponsorship of this fun event in conjunction with Father Hennepin Festival," said Andy Singleton, Champlin’s recreation supervisor and festival coordinator.
While his daughters would love to use the money to take another trip to Disney World, Whitehouse says the extra cash will likely go towards something for the house such as a new kitchen table.
Whitehouse said the experience was not only fun but interesting as he visited a couple parks he’s never been to and it was a fun thing to do with the kids.