Coral Gables hosts Herald Hunt puzzle adventure

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Monday, November 7, 2005

On November 6, 2005, thousands of puzzle lovers from around the country swarmed Coral Gables, Florida, USA, with the hopes of being the first to solve a series of interactive riddles and win a weeklong resort vacation for four, as part of a free event called 'The Herald Hunt.' Billed as an 'urban puzzle safari', the Herald Hunt was designed by Dave Barry and Tom Shroder, and produced by The Miami Herald newspaper.

The Sunday issue of the Miami Herald included a special Hunt section which listed over eighty numbered clues. But only five of the clues were legitimate; the rest were red herrings. Participants roamed the city in search of five numbers that would reveal the identity of the genuine clues from the newspaper. Cryptic hints were embedded in unusual places: street trolleys bearing strange messages, speakers blaring loud music, actors on the sidewalk making hand gestures, and even in the songs sung by a barbershop quartet in front of City Hall.

The five correct clues, when combined with a final clue announced at 3pm, yielded a phone number. Teams that correctly deduced and called the phone number heard a message containing one final puzzle that needed to be solved in order to win the prize.

The members of this year's winning team were Robin and Cary Ginter, Steve Friedland, Brian O'Neil, and Mark Engelberg. They were the first team to decode the phone message and complete the final task.

Engelberg and O'Neil flew in from across the country to attend the Hunt with their friends who are local to the area. O'Neil explained, "There's no other event I'm aware of that's quite like the Herald Hunt. There are other puzzle competitions, but nothing on this kind of large scale."

This is Engelberg's and Friedland's third win, and a second-time win for the other members of the team. When asked to explain the secret of their success, Engelberg said that teamwork was key. "We've gotten very good at working together," he said.

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