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Editor's Note

By Tom Shroder
Sunday, May 11, 2008

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ...

Next Sunday, May 18, please gather friends and family to join me, Gene Weingarten, Dave Barry and multitudes of your neighbors at noon in downtown Washington for the 2008 Post Hunt. The Post Hunt is a huge mutant puzzle mated with the weirdest scavenger hunt you can imagine. Instead of searching for fountain pens, matchbooks or blue gumballs (or whatever), you will be hunting for solutions to huge, wacky puzzles woven into the landscape. (The wacky part is pretty much a given, seeing as Dave and Gene helped me come up with the puzzles.) The Hunt is designed to be an adventure in creative thinking and a unique kind of fun you can share with friends, families, co-workers or NSA code-breakers you've hired for the afternoon. It's also a cool way to explore one of the most exciting parts of the redeveloped downtown in a festival-like atmosphere. Plus, if you manage to outsmart everyone, you'll win not only the envy and adulation of your peers but also a five-day luxury vacation for four in South Florida.

This first Post Hunt is a direct descendant of a hunt that Gene and Dave created in 1984 for the Miami Herald. I joined in the following year. Altogether, there have been 17 Hunts in Florida, and the one thing we've learned is that once people experience a Hunt, they tend to keep coming back for more. Last fall on Miami Beach, a grown woman approached Dave and me to inform us that she had attended the very first Hunt -- in her mother's womb -- and had been returning ever since. Which raises a question: Are we really that old? Also: What makes the Hunt so addictive?

It's hard to explain, but maybe you can get a sense of it in our special online section. There you'll get all the basic info, and you'll be able to try out a mini virtual Hunt, which will give you an excellent idea of the nature of the Hunt puzzles and just how tricky they can be. What it won't do is reproduce the electric excitement that builds as hundreds of teams fill the streets of downtown, racing against one another to be the first to unlock all the Hunt's secrets. And it can't convey that moment of shared adventure at the end when everyone gathers in front of the Hunt stage to cheer the winners and to boo Dave, Gene and me as we explain the solutions to all the puzzles.

If you don't join us, those boos just won't be the same.

Tom Shroder can be reached at shrodert@washpost.com.

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