The Banana Costume

This past weekend was probably one of my favorite Cleveland weekends ever. My friend, Emily, was coming up from Cincinnati for a visit, and while searching for things we could do, I stumbled upon RTA’s “Search the City Scavenger Hunt”. The event would take place on Saturday, June 2nd. For only $60, teams of 2-4 people would have to run around the city collecting clues, competing in challenges, and earning points in hopes of eventually winning the grand prize of $250 and tickets to the Indian’s Social Suite for the night’s game. Regardless of who won, every team that participated would get t-shirts, and general admission tickets to the game. Emily is extremely competitive and this sounded like something right up her alley.

After a little bit of recruiting, I signed us up as a team of 4 with me, Emily, and two of our mutual friends: Alex and Sarah. I was even able to find us a little competition. After telling my cousin, Mike, and his wife, Ashleigh, about the event, they eagerly signed up too.

We learned that he hunt would begin at the Rapid station in Tower City a little before 11, where teams would receive their first clue about where to go first. Using public transportation or by foot, teams would have to travel around the city of Cleveland to various checkpoints gathering clues to where there next destination might be. At each checkpoint, teams would have to tweet a picture of at least half of their members, and possibly complete a challenge to not only earn their next clue, but points to help them win the hunt. Teams could also earn bonus points by posing in pictures riding in a bus, on a train, or with members of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. For an additional prize, teams were encouraged to wear costumes in order to win the “Best Costume” contest. Every team would have to complete the entire scavenger hunt by 5 and turn in their scorecards at Rally Alley next to Jacob’s Field.

We arrived early at Tower City with the mindset that we were going to win. Emily even wore her banana costume, hoping to steal a costume contest win as well.

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Our first clue led us to the Cleveland Police Academy/Museum downtown. There our challenge was to explore the museum and complete a test using only information that we found out in the museum. Alex and Sarah led us to a victory here, and within 15 minutes we had the next clue in our hands. With the first challenge behind us so quickly, we were sure that there was no possible way that the entire hunt would take us until 5. We proclaimed we would be done by 3! However, with each subsequent clue and challenge, we inched closer and closer to that 5:00 PM deadline. The RTA raced us to Playhouse Square, had us hoping the bus to University Circle, took us all the way east to Shaker Square and back west to Ohio City. Some challenges like counting the number of wagon wheels in a park were cake. However, other challenges like racing through the West Side Market trying to photograph items like Birdie (a type of bread by the way) in under 10 minutes left us screaming at each other to finish faster. Along the way we tweeted pictures of us riding the bus, the Rapid, and with as many Downtown Cleveland Alliance workers as possible. By the time we finally finished our last challenge at Fort Huntington Park around 4:30, we were exhausted. The whole day had taken a lot longer than we anticipated, and we felt that despite whatever place we had finished in, we definitely had competed for first. We arrived at the Rally Alley a little before 5, turned in our scorecard, relaxed for awhile, and met up with Mike and Ashleigh. They had finished a little before us, thought the whole entire event was an amazing experience, and felt confident that they had done pretty well.

It was not until 6:00 PM that the RTA tweeted out the name of the winner. By then my phone’s battery had died, and when I approached the members of the RTA to find how we had done, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we had won! We were ecstatic! They also loved Emily’s banana costume, but winning the scavenger hunt took us out of the race for best costume. Guess you can’t win them all!

The view from the Social Suite was fantastic, and the RTA was even kind enough to let us have two extra tickets for Mike and Ashleigh. Although it was a pretty poor showing from the Tribe, the RTA had a couple more surprises in store for us. Carlos Baerga and Candy Maldonado showed up half-way through the game to meet us and sign autographs. For those who don’t know, Carlos and Candy are both former players for the Tribe. Carlos Baerga was a big part of the 1995 Cleveland Indians World Series effort, and Candy Maldonado hit the first ever run for the Indians at Jacobs Field. Mike was absolutely giddy about meeting them, and when they arrived he quipped, “Carlos, you were part of my favorite Cleveland sports team of all time. Candy, you missed it by one year.”

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Even though the Tribe would go on to lose to the Twins, the night could not have ended on a better note. After the last inning, we were taken down to the visitor’s dugout. There we would watch the fireworks and get our pictures taken out on the field.

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Special thanks to the Greater Cleveland RTA. It was a great event, and we definitely cannot wait for next year’s scavenger hunt! For more pictures check out my twitter feed or GCRTA’s Facebook page.

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