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The American Red Cross

1998 Tropic Hunt

Your online guide to the zaniness of the 1998 Tropic Hunt!

1998 Tropic Hunt Cover Image

When:  11/1/1998

Where: Downtown Hollywood

The last \"Tropic\" Hunt held by the Miami Herald, and one of the last Tropic Magazines published as well.

\nDowntown Hollywood…this was a new location for the Hunt. Hollywood had been used in the first Hunt ever, but now got to host the Hunt in it\'s full glory. The site puzzles for this Hunt were rather difficult, to say the least…there was one that was hidden entirely and you just had to find it on your own! What\'s up with THAT?!

\nThis was easily the most difficult Hunt ever. How hard was it? The final puzzle had to have two additional clues broadcast before anyone figured it out! One group accidentally stumbled upon the final location where they could have won…but they were turned away when they couldn\'t explain how they got there…

The Initial Puzzles
NOTE: The puzzle answers are hidden! In order to see them, you must highlight them with your mouse to reverse the text!

No initial puzzles available for this year.

Main Puzzles (i.e. the puzzle sites)
NOTE: Puzzle answers and their descriptions are hidden! In order to see them, you must highlight them with your mouse to reverse the text!

Puzzle: "Tic-Tac"-Toe
Location: Various
Astute Hunters noticed that at nine locations along Harrison, Hollywood and Tyler streets, Hunt volunteers were handing out Tic-Tac breath mints. Charted on the Hunt Map, the locations made a three-by-three grid. At each location, there were either posters or handouts: a pin with Jackie O's face, a Cheerio, Ex-Lax, extinct animals, an Oreo, O.J. Simpson, an Adults Only movie marquee, a Hershey's Kiss.
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 2000
How to get the answer:
The trick was to realize that, as the Tic-Tacs suggested, this was a TIC-TAC-TOE grid, and each location was represented by either an X or an O. (Examples: O.J. was, of course an O, and the Adults Only marquee was an X.) If you filled in the grid, the ``winning'' tic-tac-toe line was a diagonal of three O's running from northwest to southeast. But 000 was not a possible correct answer. You had to notice that pictured on the map, in a direct line with the diagonal OOO, was a big, red 2. The answer to this puzzle was 2000.

Puzzle: Conga Line
Location: Two locations
Elsewhere in downtown Hollywood, Hunt percussionists and volunteers were leading two giant conga lines, encouraging all Hunters to get in step behind them.
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 30
How to get the answer:
But the dance itself wasn't the thing. It was the route the dancers were taking. If Hunters plotted the dual conga lines' courses on the map, they would sketch the following: 30. The answer to this puzzle was 30.

Puzzle: Dueling Pianomen
Location: Young Circle Park
On the stage in Young Circle Park, two pianists, famous for their performances at the Howl at the Moon saloons in Coconut Grove and Fort Lauderdale, Ben Michaels and Orin Sands, were taking song requests from a large crowd of Hunters.
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 446
How to get the answer:
Hunters had to notice that whatever songs they were playing were missing the words the, a and an. A grammar discussion inside Tropic magazine pointed out that these words were all ``articles.'' Above the stage hung a banner that said, ``This Puzzle Is Sponsored by FURNITURE FURNITURE.'' On Page 17 in Tropic (the page listed in the table of contents for an article on drag queens that was missing from the magazine -- a ``missing article'') there was an ad for a mythical business named FURNITURE FURNITURE plugging such ``fine articles'' as a hat rack, a music stand, a wardrobe and a dresser. Two of those ``articles'' -- the hat rack and the music stand -- were on the stage. Two were missing. If you added up the cost of the ``missing articles,'' you had the correct answer: 446.

Puzzle: Ice Cream Napkin
Location: Small Park on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. & 20th Avenue
At a cute tot lot on Hollywood Boulevard, Hunt volunteers were giving away free ice cream, with napkins printed with a strange logo: a tabletop on which there was a dot, and the familiar cartoon face of Dick Tracy.
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 287
How to get the answer:
To solve the puzzle, you had to decode it as: ``period Dick table.'' Or using a pinch of phonetic license: periodic table. In Tropic, there happened to be a half-page reproduction of the periodic table of the elements, the chart of all of the known elements, in which each element is represented by both a number and an abbreviation. Oxygen, for instance is represented by the letter O and the number 8. Hunters had to realize the free ice cream was the key: you had to spell ``ICE CREAM'' using the periodic table abbreviations, then add up the atomic numbers of the elements used. The answer was: I -- Iodine -- 53; Ce -- Cerium -- 58; C -- Carbon -- 6; Re -- Rhenium -- 75; Am -- Americium -- 95, or a total of 287, the correct answer.

Puzzle: The "Hidden" Puzzle
Location: Hollywood Boulevard and 19th Avenue
A medium-rise building at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and 19th Avenue has distinctive urban art in its closed-off second- and third-floor windows -- silhouettes of people and objects. It was painted to look as if you were seeing the activities within through shadows cast on a shade.
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 21
How to get the answer:
Astute hunters noticed that one of the images, a woman admiring herself in a hand mirror, served as the illustration for True Lies, Tropic's short fiction column. The byline on the story was Cassie Hulit, which rearranged spelled ``this is a clue.'' If you read the story closely, you noticed that each paragraph contained veiled descriptions of the scenes depicted in the window art. The woman in the story is searching for something that eludes her. Careful readers figured out she was referring to the slats of the Venetian blinds in the final silhouette. There are 21 slats, the answer to this puzzle.

The Clues
21. If O-K=D, what does F+M equal?
30. It comes before ``Christmas Tree.''
287. A mischievous trick minus a public recreation area.
446. After Harry and Ulysses, then what?
2000. It holds up your balls so you can whack them.

The Final Puzzle
NOTE: The final puzzle description is hidden! In order to see them, you must highlight them with your mouse to reverse the text!

The Final Puzzle:
It was a wacky newscast, written by Tropic humorist Dave Barry, who along with Tropic Executive Editor Tom Shroder and former Tropic editor Gene Weingarten designed the 1998 Hunt. The only importance of the newscast was that in each story, there was an item familiar to people who had solved the tic-tac-toe clue. In order they were: O.J., Ex-Lax, extinct animals, Baltimore Orioles, Oreo, Ex-Lax, Oreo. If you overlaid the tic-tac-toe grid on a touch-tone phone, each of the nine squares corresponded with a number. So if you knew the location of each of the above X's and O's, you could decode the Fort Lauderdalephone number 527-8424. Hunters who called that number got a recording that sounded like this: ``Enter your pin number, Harry.''
Final puzzle photos and materials...
Solving the Hunt:
When Hunters matched the answers to each of the five puzzles with the clues in the magazine, they got these five statements: 21: If O-K=D, what does F+M equal? 30: It comes before ``Christmas Tree.'' 287: A mischievous trick minus a public recreation area. 446: After Harry and Ulysses, then what? 2000: It holds up your balls so you can whack them. The solution to each of the above is, or sounds like, a letter of the alphabet. In the first, the answer is ``S.'' (O is the 15th letter of the alphabet, K is the 11th letter, D is the fourth letter -- 15-11=4. Likewise, F+M=S). In the lyrics of the popular Christmas carol, ``O'' comes before ``Christmas tree.'' A mischievous trick is a prank, a public recreation area is a park. Subtract the letters common to both words, and you are left with N. Presidents Harry Truman and Ulysses Grant both used the middle initial S. A golf tee (T) holds your golf balls up so you can whack them. After solving all five clues you had: SONST.

The sharpest Hunters noticed that on the edge of a Jackie-O lapel pin they received, there was a tiny number: 1940. This was their ``pin number.'' But ``entering'' it in the phone did nothing. You had to put the word ``Harry'' from the Final Clue with the SONST from the other five clues to get HARRYSONST. Or, rejiggering slightly: HARRISON ST. The winners went to 1940 Harrison St. And entered.

Who won (Congratulations!):


Photos, articles, stories and other multimedia related to the hunt...



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