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10 Questions on MotorCity Casino’s Scavenger Hunt with John Policicchio
|Aerial view of Campus Martius in Detroit.|
Are you a Detroit expert or a curious explorer of the city? You might like the MotorCity Scavenger Hunt hosted by MotorCity Casino Hotel. The event, which takes place on September 22nd, sees participants search for locations across the city and snap photos of themselves in front of Motor City landmarks for a chance to win a grand prize of $10,000. We sat down with the event’s organizer, John Policicchio, to talk about the inspiration behind the event and what we can expect this year.
1. Tell us about the MotorCity Scavenger Hunt. What is the event all about, and what was the inspiration?
It’s a downtown Detroit, citywide scavenger hunt. It starts at MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board where teams of one to four people get a map and clues to locations around the city. The top five teams enter the final challenge. Last year the final challenges were three minute-to-win-it-style contests where the top team walks away with the prize money. For teams that don’t make the top five there’s a second-chance event, including trivia and clues. We give away $3,000-$5,000 for the second-chance event.
We started in 2010, and one of the first things I was charged with was working on the scavenger hunt. We had a general idea of what we wanted to do: promote the city and use social media. We landed on a downtown scavenger hunt that promoted local Detroit businesses.
2. What have been some of the best “hidden locations” in years past?
We’ve done cryptic, LOST-style themes, and the first year it was a manhunt, where each location had a bonus clue that would lead you to the final location of the “escapee,” which was Sound Board. But I don’t like to keep the locations secret because I like to promote the businesses, so I pick and choose a few “unknown” locations that don’t make it to the website. This year we launched the Roadies Club at Sound Board. “Roadies” will get a bonus clue sometime before the hunt, which gives you a vital piece of information to help organize your route. That’s all I can really say.
“'Roadies' will get a bonus clue sometime before the hunt, which [helps] organize your route."
3. Who typically participates? College kids, couples, athletes?
The most pleasantly surprising thing has been the diversity. We expected young, socially engaged people. But it’s the most diverse crowd we see: young and old, black and white, city and suburbs. There’s a huge diversity of people, which is different from what we expected. Some people come to compete for the cash and are out to win, but there’s a huge chunk of people who are just out having a good time. At the end of the day, a few of the locations give away coupons or snacks to returning participants, and everyone gets a free t-shirt. Plus, registration is free.
4. How do the partner businesses work with the event?
We have a list of locations that we want to include and we reach out to established and new businesses to participate, and local businesses can reach out to us as well. It’s a great way to gain exposure, and 900 people – how many we had last year – will have pictures of your business on their phone or camera.
5. How does social media play a role in the Scavenger Hunt?
Legally, we can’t make people use social media during the event in order to win, though people are welcome to share along the way as they choose. We do, however, use social media to promote the event, and after the fact a lot of the photos from the event find life in the social space. We encourage people to use the hashtags #MotorCity #ScavengerHunt during the event. As we get closer the Facebook event wall will help people ask questions.
6. What have been some of the most difficult clues in years past?
|Dodge Fountain in downtown Detroit, near the Detroit River.|
Last year Green Dot Stables was on the route before the business was re-opened. The location can be difficult to get to if you don’t know to take Rosa Parks to cross the freeway, and the address at the time was wrong on Google Maps. So that was tricky. The Grasshopper statue at DIA was hard to find on search engines, too. It was a fun clue and a challenge to find. And Eastern Market is always tough, because with the one-ways it’s hard to get out in a reasonable amount of time if you don’t know where to enter.
7. Are there returning champions or favorites in the field at this point?
Not that I know of. The first-year winners didn’t make the top five in year two. I don’t think there have been any close repeats. There’s no runaway favorite. It’s open depending on how good you are with the map and executing your plan. There were definitely a lot of repeat participants from one last year.
8. How much walking, biking, running is involved?
You can use a car and we have bikes… any legal transportation, really. Walking can be difficult due to the distance that has to be covered. I’ve seen everything from taxis to scooters. But you can’t break any traffic rules. A motorized bike could be a good idea for parking purposes. Between Corktown, Midtown, the RiverFront and downtown there’s a lot of ground to cover.
9. What are you most looking forward to about this year’s event?
I’m looking forward to the crowd again. I know this is sentimental, but I love watching people study maps of Detroit for an hour at Sound Board, hearing people discover these places and answering questions. There’s a great energy in the room as it starts.
10. What do you like most about the Scavenger Hunt?
I like promoting classic venues like the Fox Theater and new places like Mercury Bar. It’s a really fun way to explore downtown, to experience all the new, young energy in Detroit, and to realize that there’s a lot to do in the city.
There are still spots available for the Scavenger Hunt, and registration is free. Visit www.MotorCityScavengerHunt.com to register. Teams of one to four are allowed, and everyone on the team needs to register separately. The Scavenger Hunt takes place on September 22nd.