Popular scavenger hunt rewards contest rewards winners with thousands of dollars of jewelry each week for knowledge of Augusta lore
Walking into Windsor Jeweler’s new back office, it’s apparent Shane Thompson is more wired than usual. As someone who wears prescription sports goggles along with his business suit, Thompson is always bristling with energy.
It’s just before lunch, and Shane is sitting/crouching in a chair, both feet bouncing. While he is trying to get out to meet his wife and kids for lunch, something has stopped him in his tracks.
“They got it! They’re headed this way!” he says over his shoulder to no one in particular.
Staring at his phone, Thompson says, “Box finders are here…look at that…surprise surprise. We saw you coming.”
Thompson has two GPS finders in the box, one is a cell phone tower GPS, and the other is satellite based.
Thompson, son of Windsor Jewelers owner Donnie Thompson, is overseeing one of his more ‘out of the box’ promotions. He and his co-worker Maggie Cude head to greet the contest winners, who are standing at the counter, box in hand, when the elevator doors open.
“Congratulations!” Thompson exclaims.
“Thank you! Are you Shane?” asks Deb Latch, who is accompanying her husband Willie, who just found the box.
“This is amazing. My son Wesley loves this. And this is such a good history lesson! There’s so much history here. I enjoy it for the history hunt. The clues he comes up with and all,” Mrs. Latch says.
Following are the clues (Bolded) along with the explanations Shane posted after the box was found:
#1 Clue, Sunday Nov. 15th :: Where the ride ends and the work begins.
For the first quarter of the 20th century, what is now the Exchange Club Fairgrounds played host to Spring Training for several Major League teams, like the Brooklyn Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, Boston Braves, Boston Red Sox and New York Giants. But how did Augusta become a Spring Training destination? “This is where the railroad stopped and Florida had not been developed yet, so Augusta was a great place for Spring Training.”
#2 Clue, Monday Nov. 16th :: There’s no better in this country.
Branch Rickey is most famous for signing Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but years earlier he is on record as saying that Augusta’s Warren Park was the finest minor league park in America.
#3 Clue, Tuesday Nov. 17th :: The best opportunity to pull from life into death.
According to Wikipedia, “The left fielder tends to receive more balls than the right fielder because right-handed hitters tend to “pull” the ball into left field.” Pulled balls generally go further and can often lead to homeruns. The best chance that right handed hitter could hit a ball into Magnolia Cemetery was to “pull” it over the fence in left field. A 1904 map shows Warren Park with a small grandstand and a small bleacher section. The 1923 map shows a much larger grandstand, with bleacher areas at both corners. The catcher faced SE in both configurations. The City cemetery (Magnolia Cemetery) was across 3rd Street from the park, and Hale Street Baptist Church separated the 3B line from 4th Street.
#4 Clue, Wednesday Nov. 18th :: An old divider of joy and sorrow.
The fairgrounds bring laughter and happiness, just across the street is a cemetery which is associated with loss and sorrow. The box was located on the edge of 3rd street, which divides the two.
#5 Clue, Thursday Nov. 19th :: They came here, because Florida was yet to be developed.
“What was the giveaway clue?” Thompson asks.
“Wesley caught onto it right off. ‘Up from Florida..’, Mr. Latch said. “We’ve been looking at baseball fields since the first clue was posted.”
“Well, a lot of people have no idea that all the major leaguers used to come here because that is where the railroad ended,” Thompson says.
“Oh yeah, that was the deal sealer,” replied Mr. Latch.
“The clue this morning, I said ‘I know where it is! It’s either Peabody or Hale Street,'” Mr. Latch, who found the box less than an hour earlier, said.
Deb looks to Thompson, “Well this is amazing. My hat goes off to you. I told a friend of mine ‘Shane is good at this.'”
After posing for a picture with their new jewelry set, an 18k gold and sterling bracelet with a matching pair of 18k gold and sterling earrings by designer Charles Krypell valued at $2,070, they head out to go meet their son for lunch.
“Thank you Shane. Keep doing it. Thank you!”, Mrs Latch says.
Back upstairs, Thompson shared the clues he gave and the explanation of each.
“The game is I release a clue every day through email and online. I email the clues to roughly 2,700 people every day. That’s how many have given their email and signed up for the clues….or they just go to our website.”
There is even a Facebook Page with over 1,400 followers devoted to the contest.
While the clues are released daily, there is a way to get the clues a day earlier than everyone else.
“You can come in the store, try on a piece of jewelry from the collection we’re featuring that week, and you get the next clue a day in advance,” Thompson said.
“A lot of people, a ton, do that.”
Thompson said many people have formed teams, with people driving from as far away as Lexington, South Carolina to participate.
“The prize we give away each week starts at an average of around $1,500 and it goes up to $2,000 pretty fast, then it goes up to $3,000,” Thompson explained. The promotion runs eight consecutive weeks. If someone finds the box in less than 24 hours, a ‘bonus’ box is placed. This week’s winners happened to have found a bonus box.
“This box goes out Friday morning. If someone finds it before I put out the next clue Saturday morning, I have to put out another one,” Thompson said.
“People find it with one clue. And they do.”
Last week, the box was found with the one clue, “Less than one hundred, mostly in business.”
With that, the box was located in the median on Greene Street, directly in front of the AT&T building. That’s right.
“It was the fact that the first telephone system in Georgia was here, and it was 78 subscribers-it was an actual switchboard where someone would unplug and plug in. All of the people except for one or two were all local businesses,” Thompson smiled.
“Someone had figured that out and went and took a picture of the box next to the AT&T plaque. “We knew it, we love AT&T!”
Thompson said people hunt everywhere. Recently the box was found below Lake Thurmond dam.
“The clue was it was like looking towards a railroad that had never been….or like a railroad that you may have seen but never existed,” Thompson explained.
“And the point was that our dam was used in both of the Hunger Games movies. We power the Capital City in all of the movies. They came and filmed it at Lake Thurmond dam. The train that Katniss Everdeen rides into the capital runs over the Lake Thurmond dam.
The box was hidden in the recreation area below the dam, behind picnic tables back in the woods. “All the clues were crazy. You can’t go straight to Hunger Games or people will find it,” Thompson said.
“So it starts out ‘if you see a vortex in an open field’ kind of thing,” Thompson explained.
“And the truth is they have a Chimney Swift house that has a fake chimney. The Chimney Swifts, they do a vortex into it. When they migrate here in October and November they come in at dusk. You can see them come in and do their tornado into the chimney,” Thomson explained.
“They look like bats. Their wings are like arrows and they fly like tornadoes when they go down into chimneys. If you go down there, there is a sign that says, ‘Hey, look for the vortex’ talking about the birds with a picture of them flying into the chimney. So you have to know about all of this stuff. You don’t just get it unless you have been there before and go, ‘Oh, I remember that! I read that back in 2004!” Thompson said.
“People have told me, ‘I met my spouse through this…or I see my grandparents every day now. I go there every day with these clues. I’m seeing them more than I have in a decade!” Thompson shared.
“Or my kids have been glued to their phones, now we are all out looking as a family.”
People say they have learned so much about our area. We hear that every week. It’s crazy. Now that is worth doing. When you know you’re pouring back into your community. Which is worth it. I like that.”
Green Box #1: Week 1-Winner received a John Hardy Sterling silver 34″ pendant necklace set with a blend of pavé blue sapphire, black sapphire and black spinal, along with a pair of Naga stud earrings with blue sapphire retailing at $1,590.
2635 Washington Road