Archived Story

One great hunt: SunFest medallion contest piques citizens’ interest

Published 10:29am Wednesday, July 31, 2013

All over the city last week, groups of people could be seen seemingly wandering aimlessly around town.
But this was no aimless wandering – these people were on a mission to solve the Pie in the Sky Treasure Hunt, a weeklong event that offered a prize of $200 for those who solved the daily riddle and found the gold medallion.
“There are always people who will surprise you with how clever they are,” said Ann Rye, director of the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce. “The whole mystery and clue, I think, appealed to a large group of people.”
Rye said the contest “gave everyone something to talk about and try to work together on.” While Rye said she had plenty of people ask her where the medallion was throughout the week, what made the contest a success was the fact the integrity of the process.
“No one knows or will know who wrote the clues – the integrity was really good for a contest of this magnitude,” Rye said. “No one knew the answer – I didn’t even have the answer.”
Rye said she even heard reports of people following the Kowaliga Country van, with hopes it would lead them to the gold.
Though some of the first few days ended up being a race to the medal, Friday’s clue was markedly more challenging.
The clue was
“To announce it too slowly will confusion bestow upon those who seek the gold platters. So seize her and sigh for the day will fly by And shift it all right where it matters. ‘”Tis the sweetest of days for the lass, not the lad;”
This fact will for certain help Reshuffle, reset and review! Include the octet straight out of the gate as you struggle to unlock the clue; Arrive at the terms that match your quick wit.
The medallion shall be in plain view… “HE’S A CHEESE EATER”’
The key to the puzzle hinged on the phrase “seize her and sigh for,” which Rob Pridgen, IT director for the city, finally discovered after scratching his head for a while.
“I had heard of Caesar ciphers when I was a kid,” Pridgen said.
A Caesar cipher is a form of puzzle that shifts letters a predetermined amount based on a number. Pridgen tried the brute force method, shifting the letters one, then two, then three spots and so on.
By this time it was about 3:15 p.m., and Pridgen had taken off half a day to continue his hunt. But despite constant collaboration with his wife Connie, he still was coming up short. Pridgen was sitting at Central Alabama Community College, getting his wife to read him back notes they had been creating throughout the day. Then he called the chamber to find out the next clue: “Rock Room.”
“I knew I was close. I knew that it had to be a synonym,” Pridgen said.
Then it hit him. Room equaled chamber. The rock clue, which could have been had by solving the cipher, gave him all he needed.
“I was fairly certain it was at the chamber,” Pridgen said. “I walked along the back side of the chamber and saw two rocks sort of angled at each other. I saw some where some bark looked like it had been disturbed.”
When he inspected further, he pulled out a bag with the final medallion.
“It was definitely a collaborative effort between me and my wife,” Pridgen said. “It was just one of those things we couldn’t let go. We were calling each other back and forth with ideas the whole day.”
Forturnately for those who enjoyed the contest, the chamber doesn’t plan on letting go of it for next year.
“We will definitely have the hunt again next year,” Rye said.