Sunday, May 17, 2009
If you're reading this, chances are you're considering participating in the Post Hunt on Sunday, May 17, in downtown Washington. No doubt you have questions. We will answer them now.
Q. Will everyone be wearing underpants?
A. As far as we know, yes. Don't you want to know what the Post Hunt is?
Q. Only if it's pertinent.
A. The Post Hunt is a gigantic, challenging, family-friendly contest that will be taking place in the streets of Washington on Sunday, May 17, starting at noon. It lasts four hours. This is the second year we've done it. Last year's event was wildly successful.
Q. Define "wildly successful."
A. There were no deaths, that we know of.
Q. How many people do you expect?
A. Remember the Obama inauguration?
A. Fewer than that. Last year, there were 5,000 people, but it was our first D.C. Hunt, and the weather forecast called for hailstones the size of fairly large hailstones. This year, we expect more people.
A. Because if you win, you get actual money. First prize is $2,000. (See Prizes)
Q. Do I have to declare this income for federal tax purposes?
Q. What if I'm in the Cabinet?
A. Of course not.
Q. Okay, I'm in. Can you tell me anything more about the Hunt?
A. It was created by Dave Barry, Gene Weingarten and Tom Shroder.
Q. Why were no women involved?
A. Because this is a highly technical operation.
Q. In what sense?
A. In the sense that we are amused by the word "underpants."
Q. What will I have to do to participate?
A. First, just answer the Opening Questions. Go do it now. We'll wait right here.
Q. Boy, those were stupid.
Q. What do I do now?
A. Assemble a team. It can be any size, but the ideal number is four people.
Q. Can't I do it alone?
A. Yes, but group thinking is a big advantage.
Q. What if I can't find anyone who wants to join me?
A. No problem, Mr. Vice President. Just get to the Hunt Main Stage before 11:30 on the morning of the Hunt, and look for the table with the "Team Up Here" sign. Others looking for teammates will also gather there, and you can hook up. Or, if that doesn't work out, you can form a Hunt team.
Q. So now I have my team. What do we do?
A. Your team needs to be around the stage at Freedom Plaza no later than noon. (You won't need a car to participate in the Hunt, so we strongly recommend getting there by Metro. The McPherson Square and Federal Triangle stations are most convenient to Freedom Plaza.)
Q. Will there be somewhere to eat?
A. Yes. The Hunt is in the heart of monumental Washington, which is loaded with restaurants.
Q. What do I need to bring?
A. A pen or pencil, a copy of the Magazine and a sense of the absurd. Your group will also need at least one cellphone with text-messaging capabilities. (For anyone who doesn't have a print issue of the Magazine, we'll have some free copies at the site.) If it's inclement weather, dress appropriately. As anyone who attended last year can tell you, the Hunt goes on, rain or shine.
Q. Okay. What's going to happen at noon?
A. Dave, Gene and Tom will be onstage. They will deliver a clue. Combined with your answers to the Opening Questions, this new clue will divulge the location of the five main Puzzles -- all within easy walking distance of the stage. The Hunt Map on Pages 22 and 23 will be very helpful in finding the locations of the Puzzles and is essential to solving the Hunt. You can visit the Puzzles in any order you wish.
Q. How will I know I'm in the right place?
A. At each location, the Puzzle should be obvious; nothing is hidden, and nothing is small. You won't have to go into any buildings to solve any of the Puzzles. You'll know you're at the right place because each site will be peopled by friendly and courteous Hunt staffers in friendly and courteous Hunt Staff T-shirts.
Q. How do I solve the puzzles?
A. You won't have to do anything physically daunting. This is a cerebral event. The only danger is to your self-esteem.
Q. You still haven't said how to solve the Puzzles. Is that a clue?
A. Each Puzzle has a single answer. THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS A NUMBER. We are shouting in capital letters because this point is crucial to solving the Puzzles. Study the Puzzle until you think you've figured out what the number is. Then go to the numbered list of word and picture Clues on Pages 18, 19 and 20 of the Magazine. If the number you guess doesn't match the number of one of the clues on that list, your guess is wrong.
Q. What if it does match one of the numbers?
A. You might still be wrong, but probably not; the Puzzles are designed so that when you solve one, it's an "aha!" moment, and you'll have a strong sense that you are right.
Q. What do I do after I've solved a Puzzle?
A. Go on to another one, in any order. As we mentioned, the number solution for each Puzzle will match one of the numbered clues on the Clue Pages. When you've solved all five Puzzles, you'll have five clues.
Q. What if I can't solve a Puzzle?
A. Go on to the next one. You have three hours to solve them all, which allows for extra time to double back and try again. In general, work quickly, but there's no need to run.
Q. What about all the other numbers and clues on the Clue Pages?
A. They're decoys, put there to confuse you. Like the tax code.
Q. Okay, so I've solved the five Puzzles. Then what?
A. Go back to the stage where it all began. At 3 p.m., we'll deliver a Final Clue. The Final Clue, combined with the clues you got from solving the five Puzzles, will in some way reveal what you have to do next to win the Post Hunt. We call this part of the Hunt "the Endgame." It's sneaky and devious and mean and diabolical. Some of you will have no idea what to do. Some of you will know exactly what to do, but you will be wrong. A small number of you will Get It. There are always winners. [Check out last year's Endgame]
Q. What sort of thing do you have to do to win, in the Endgame?
A. You'll have to figure it out on your own. Whether you figure it out or not, make sure that at least one cellphone-connected person on your team returns to the stage at 3:30. At that point, we will either announce the winners and reveal the solutions to all the Puzzles, or, if we think it is necessary, we will announce an additional hint. The Hunt continues until we have winners -- the first, second and third teams to figure out the Endgame. If you know you're hopelessly befuddled, then hang around the stage. Kick back, enjoy the music, and wait for the dramatic moment when Dave, Gene and Tom explain the answers, and everyone boos. (The answers will also be available online on Monday.)
Q. Is there any way we can bone up for this experience, to increase our skills?
A. Yes. You can watch these videos in which we explain how to solve the puzzles from the 2008 Hunt, and you can try your hand at the Virtual Hunt. You also can, and should, familiarize yourself with all the contents of the May 17 issue of the Magazine. Essential Hunt hints may be hidden in any part of the Magazine.
Q. Can children participate?
A. Yes. In fact, children are often the ones to see something so ob-vious that their rocket-scientist parents missed it.
Q. Can a team be larger than four people?
A. Yes, but remember the cash prizes are per team, not per person.
Q. Are there any tips for how to win?
A. Remember that, above all else, the Post Hunt is supposed to be fun. So don't stress. But also be smart. If you solve a Puzzle, don't shout out the answer (competitors are listening). Periodically check the message board on the Hunt Stage. If we need to alert you to something, that's where we will do it. You'll see many logos from our wonderful sponsors around the Hunt, but just to keep people sane, we'll tell you upfront: No clues are hidden in the sponsor logos. If you have any questions (other than "What's the answer?"), knowledgeable and courteous Hunt staff members will be around to help you.
Q. Will the staff members be wearing underpants?
A. Okay, clearly we're done here. Please read the boring legal language of the official rules.
Q. Well, are you?
A. No, we are not.