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Community Fishing Derby medallion winners are old pros at deciphering clues

Community Fishing Contest medallion hunters, from left, Kevin Hegtvedt, Matt Munson, Jesse Munson and Emily Munson are this year's winners, locating the coin at the "Welcome to Park Rapids" sign on Highway 71 north. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

A quartet of diligent detectives have unearthed (unsnowed) the Legion's Community Fishing Contest medallion and will claim more than $1,000 in loot during the event's award presentation Feb. 5.

The win is a reprise for Emily and Jesse Munson and Matt Munson who deciphered the clues two years ago and found the medallion by the public works building. Kevin Hegtvedt, the fourth cohort, was in Texas at the time.

"We work as one brain," Matt Munson said. "Last year we were two feet away, around and under it," he said of the medallion, hidden in the birdbath on the lawn of the original Hubbard County Courthouse.

This year, clues were based on the film comedy, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." "Swallow two M&Ms (mad, mad, mad, mad) and you're on the run. We're heading back to the '60s for some madcap fun."

Hegtvedt ascertained the clue might be related to mile marker 260, because of the references to two and 60.

"We came to all kinds of conclusions," Jesse Munson said of the cryptic hint, including a possible 60 mph speed limit sign on the south end of town.

Because they'd not witnessed the movie, the clue, "Before you give the bucket the boot, tell someone where you hid the loot" was lost to them.

The clue refers to robbery suspect Jimmy Durante telling five motorists where he buried stolen money. He'd careened off the road and literally kicked a bucket before succumbing to mortality.

Jesse Munson determined this could be a reference to the bucket of a Bobcat, and they headed to R&R Rental on Highway 71 north.

But the detectives determined they were reading too much into the clues.

Meanwhile the five in the movie, also in a dash for cash - Sid Caesar, Jonathon Winter, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett and Milton Berle - and passengers head out to find the Big W at a state park, where Durante said he'd stashed the cash.

The clue, "Fly a plane or drive a car, either way, it ain't too far," referring to the modes of transportation in the movie, had Hegtvedt eyeing Highway 71 north, thinking of the Bemidji Airport. They also scouted the Park Rapids airfield.

Tuesday evening, they headed to the Legion for the fourth clue, "North, south, east or west, one of these is manifest." This sent them on a merry chase, heading back to the Park Rapids airport. They ruled out the windsock after determining they'd have to cross the runway to check it out.

"Manifest" brought manifest destiny and westerly wind direction to mind, Jesse Munson said. They briefly eyed the weather vane at the post office as a possibility.

They ran out to the wind turbine, stumbling through the snow to the tower by the school. No sign of foot traffic sent them back on the road.

The reference to the four directions - finally led to Emily Munson's idea - Park Rapids' "welcome" (the big W) signs. They looked at the west side sign, realizing from the footprints someone had preceded them.

They headed north and 45 minutes after their hunt began Tuesday, the medallion was discovered at the "Welcome to Park Rapids" sign by the candle factory.

All tolled, the foursome spent about seven hours in search of the treasure.

The final clues narrow down the scope.

North by northwest

And you'll have it in sight

You're welcome to scrounge,

If you've got something to light. (A candle)

Off to the park (Itasca)

Drove the bumbling crew

All in search of the

Big double U (Welcome)

California palms

Minnesota pines,

Always remember

Watch for the signs.

Culpepper, Crump,

Dingy Bell, Finch

(the movie characters)

We never promised

This would be a cinch!