The Great Twin Cities Treasure Hunt — CLUES EXPLAINED
  • In the introduction, we announce this years hunt while congratulating last year's winners and reminding hunters that registration secures a "greater payday"—i.e. the entire pot (as opposed to just half of it).
  • "our paths will cross again" is meant to suggest a pair of intersecting pedestrian/bike paths on the Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway near the jewel.
  • "soon enough" turned out to be at the end of this very hunt, when Matthew Koskie and Steven Sanftner—or "Team Stat" as they’re known—became the first Great Twin Cities Treasure Hunters to claim the prize in back-to-back hunts.
  • The words "just in" could be taken to suggest Justin Timberlake—who performed the Superbowl LII halftime show on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis; his performance of "I Would Die 4 U," and the stadium itself, were important components to this hunt.
  • The introduction was posted precisely 13 days and seven hours (or seven hours and thirteen days) before the first clue, in a reference to the Prince-penned song "Nothing Compares 2 U."
  • Eagle-eyed hunters who check their inbox—and had previously registered for this, or any, TC Treasure Hunt—may have noticed the address at the bottom of our email blasts: 401 Chicago Avenue (the address for U.S. Bank Stadium).

  • "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life" is the first line to Prince’s song "Let’s Go Crazy," and—aside from the band’s introduction ("Ladies and gentlemen, The Revolution")—the opening line to the film Purple Rain. This is intended to set the theme of the hunt, while alluding indirectly to the all-important "purple arrow" clue that would lead hunters to the jewel’s location on Minnehaha Creek.
  • "Be wary of the bluff" is meant to suggest hunters be on alert for potential red herrings and that, for the second consecutive hunt, a challenging "Goose Chase" hunt-within-a-hunt might deter them from their goal.
  • "get to un-unspool" is a cryptogram for "Minnehaha Creek." Based on the strange wording and specific letter pattern, this could be gleaned with careful examination. However, the full alphabetic cipher for the cryptogram was also hidden on a treasure map, accessible only with the password "tarkenton," via a website—the URL of which was on a poster in front of the Vikings Legacy Ship at U.S. Bank Stadium—the lone stop on our Goose Chase this hunt.
  • "Trust your gut (and the clues of course), and you’ll be on the jewel" is meant to suggest (however vaguely) that, aside from the potential for getting hung up on the Goose Chase, this hunt is meant to be read more or less straightforwardly.
  • "if you’d like to give your chances in this hunt a boost / Consider just how long it’s been since we were introduced" is meant to suggest the amount of time that has lapsed since the introduction, which was 13 days, 7 hours—or "It’s been 7 hours and 13 days," (the opening lyrics to "Nothing Compares 2 U,"). This is meant to reinforce the theme of the hunt, and to get hunters thinking about the MacGuffin: A record sleeve containing a raspberry-colored beret, a 45 RPM copy of "Purple Rain," and a purple, paisley-patterned pouch, itself containing a red toy Corvette and the Offical TC Treasure Jewel—this time amethyst in color, with Prince’s unpronounceable Love Symbol No. 2 engraved on top.

  • "From anonymous to eponymous, his rise was apostolic" is meant to suggest Prince’s meteoric rise from anonymity to super-stardom—while referencing both the self-titled album that would go platinum and make him a household name, and his devout nature.
  • "Pseudonymous" is meant to suggest Prince’s many pen-names, guises, and personalities: Alexander Nevermind, Camille, Christopher Tracy, Jamie Starr, Joey Coco, The Purple One, etc.
  • "autonomous" is meant to simultaneously suggest Prince’s wildly independent streak—including famous episodes in which Prince emancipated himself from his record label by changing his name to the aforementioned Love Symbol; began his own private record club on the internet before that was really a thing; ruthlessly pursued people who distributed his material against his wishes; sued to win his own masters back from his former label in court; etc.
  • "acronymous" is meant to suggest "TAFKAP"—the acronym for "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince"—which was frequently used in lieu of,  or alongside, the Love Symbol glyph during the time he went by that "symbolic" moniker.
  • "We always admired the way he inspired an urge to run amok" is meant to suggest Prince’s unparalleled ability to bring a frenetic energy to the crowd.
  • "We […] run amok / And look for the purple banana ‘til they put us in the truck" is meant to suggest (and references directly) the song "Let’s Go Crazy," while hinting that hunters should keep their eyes peeled (pun intended) for a purple banana—attached to a tree across Minnehaha Creek from the hiding place.

  • The third clue makes multiple references to Prince’s status as a sex symbol—"Erogenous-synonymous," "erotic," "beguilingly satyric"—and is meant to reinforce the theme of the hunt.
  • "Devoted" is meant to suggest Prince’s religious nature.
  • "semiotic" is meant to suggest Prince’s interest in symbols and their meaning—particularly his own Love Symbol No. 2.
  • "Mononymous" is meant to suggest Prince’s single name.
  • "bottomless" is meant to suggest Prince’s seemingly limitless songwriting ability and musical talent, while alluding specifically to the infamous, rear-end-baring pantsuit he wore to perform at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards.
  • "androgynous" is meant to suggest Prince’s unisex style, and makes indirect reference to his lyrics (e.g. "I’m not a woman / I’m not a man / I am something that you’ll never understand").
  • "Diminutive" is meant to suggest Prince’s stature (He was 5-foot-3!).
  • "continuative" is meant to suggest the nature of Prince’s songwriting, which was intended to move the conversation forward, and often met with resistance and controversy.
  • "He had the knack and confidence to turn a cryptic lyric" is meant to suggest Prince’s occasional use of mysterious or bewildering lyrics.
  • "cryptic lyric" is also meant to suggest the cryptogram in Clue #1.

  • "I was dreaming when I wrote this; forgive me if it goes astray" and "over—oops!" are lyrics from Prince’s song "1999."
  • "If you’re thinking in big circles, you’re already on your way ‘Round the loops" is meant to suggest the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, which runs parallel to Minnehaha Creek at the hiding place. Combined with the "forgive me if it goes astray" from the line before, it’s a vague alert to hunters that it is unlikely they would already know exactly where on the Grand Rounds to hunt.
  • "a tangled web we weave" is meant to suggest a web address at our Goose Chase stop. The abrupt "—oops!—" that precedes it is meant to hint at a rift between the first part of the clue and the last—and that the website is part of the Goose Chase, rather than a direct pointer to the MacGuffin.
  • "’neath our hat" is meant to suggest a raspberry beret, in turn a reference to Prince’s song of the same name, hidden with the jewel.
  • "hidden up our sleeve" is meant to suggest the record sleeve MacGuffin that contained the jewel and other assorted Prince-related swag.

  • "Our paisley park is great for sports; it has no short supply Of folks out jogging with their dogs or cyclists zipping by" is meant to suggest the cyclist-and-pedestrian path that runs parallel to the creek near the hiding spot, while alluding to a pair of tennis courts to the north.
  • "paisley park" is a reference to Prince’s song, record label, and studio—and is meant to suggest the purple paisley-patterned pouch that contained the jewel.
  • "a field where wood and water fit between" is meant to suggest Justin Timberlake, who performed a Prince tribute during the Superbowl LII halftime show in Minneapolis. The performance included an exterior shot of U.S. Bank Stadium with Prince’s symbol digitally inserted to appear glowing in purple across the city. The "purple arrow" (referenced in Clue #12) of that symbol points directly to the spot on Minnehaha Creek where the treasure was hidden. This line is also a reference to the hiding place itself, where trees line the creek through the middle of the park.
  • "our little crimson love machine" is a reference to Prince’s song "Little Red Corvette;" a red toy Corvette was hidden inside the pouch with the jewel.

  • "Cut to the chase and run another route into the zone" is meant to suggest that this clue references the "Goose Chase" portion of the hunt—whereby hunters will still be led to the jewel, but on a significantly more challenging and serpentine route—while simultaneously calling to mind football, and hinting at the Vikings and their Hall-of-Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton.
  • "At the site of a purple legacy forever etched in stone" is meant to suggest the Vikings Legacy Ship at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the "Legacy Bricks" that comprise its "deck."
  • "At the site" is also meant to suggest searching the area for a web address to visit (reinforcing the "tangled web" hint from Clue #4).
  • "Words engraved, enshrined, and paved" is meant to suggest searching the Legacy Bricks for one that references enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • "dispense with the preamble" is meant to suggest discarding the first name of the Hall of Famer whose brick we’re referencing (Fran Tarkenton) once prompted for a password at the website.
  • "Oddly" is meant to suggest searching for an odd-numbered Legacy Brick—specifically brick number 17: August 2, 1986. That is the date of Fran Tarkenton’s induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It would be odd to use Tarkenton to "avoid a frantic scramble" because the scramble is what he was famous for, earning him the nicknames "The Mad Scrambler," "Frantic Fran," and "Scramblin’ Fran."

  • "Dig if you will the picture" are the opening lyrics to Prince’s song "When Doves Cry."
  • "the picture of a nautical bandwagon Protected by a Norseman and a glaring purple dragon" is meant to suggest searching for a picture of the Vikings Legacy Ship at U.S. Bank Stadium—specifically a map on the poster in front of the ship, taped to a traffic light pole at the Northeast corner of Chicago Avenue and 6th Street. The Legacy Ship itself is lit purple at night, and has a dragon with glowing eyes on the bow; the back of its "sail" is adorned with a giant purple-and-gold Vikings Norseman logo.
  • "To find the glyph, just board the skiff—a legendary craft" is meant to reinforce searching the Legacy Ship area for a "stone" (or brick) of significance, "off the portside—windward, aft" of the ship (i.e. outside the line marking the ship’s "hull," toward the stadium).
  • "Our stone" is the brick inscribed with the words "JOHANNES WAS HERE TC TREASURE," found to the immediate lower right of the Tarkenton brick from Clue #6. That inscription, when entered into the website from our poster, yields a password-encrypted treasure map that leads directly to the hiding place.

  • "Red, blue, orange, yellow, green" is a reference to the names of the existing and planned METRO LRT/BRT routes in the Twin Cities area, and is meant to suggest transit—and moving the hunt from one place to another.
  • "you’ll need a purple line" is meant to suggest following a straight line from U.S. Bank Stadium to some other location—in this case, Minnehaha Creek, on a line that follows the "purple arrow" from the Superbowl LII halftime show.
  • "Make a retreat down alphabet street (after you navigate)" is meant to suggest leaving the U.S. Bank Stadium area once you’ve cracked its meaning—either by navigating the website in tandem with the Legacy Ship and following the steps of the Goose Chase (leading eventually to a treasure map with an alphabetic cipher that reveals Minnehaha Creek as a crosspoint), or through the realization of the significance of U.S. Bank Stadium to Prince’s "glyph" (referenced in Clue #7), then following the path of its arrow to a spot in the first park it coincides with: Minnehaha Creek Park.
  • "alphabet street" is also a reference to Prince’s song "Alphabet St."
  • "Check it all out! Better look now or it just might be too late" are lyrics from Prince’s song "Baby I’m a Star." They’re meant to suggest that our poster—on which much of the Goose Chase relied—was subject to removal or destruction, and that acting quickly to avoid missing out on that aspect of the hunt might be necessary (Fortunately, the poster remained up and no worse for wear throughout the hunt).

  • "Backed with the almighty and his picture on the jacket, The Purple One" is meant to suggest the 45 RPM single of "Purple Rain" with which the jewel was hidden; Prince’s photo is on the cover and the B-side is titled "God."
  • "The Purple One is near a quiet place to raise a racket" is meant to suggest that the jewel hidden near a tennis court. If you searched on one of the six tennis courts closest to the jewel on Minnehaha Creek, there’s a chance you discovered one (or more) of a dozen purple tennis balls containing TC Treasure Tokens, deposited the night before Clue #9, and intended to let you know you’re on the right track!
  • "the amethyst" is meant to reinforce the purple color of this hunt’s jewel.

CLUE #10
  • "Search before the dragon’s gaze to navigate the site" tells you to navigate to the web address on the poster in front of the Vikings Legacy Ship, and reminds hunters to "play fair" by leaving it for other hunters to discover, once they’ve unraveled its secrets.
  • "Double-check the map" is meant to suggest not only double-checking the Legacy Ship location for the URL beneath the map on the poster, but also double-checking the map once you’ve navigated to that site—specifically by making sure to click on it to reveal our Bonus Clue.
  • "I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain" is the titular lyric from Prince’s song "Purple Rain" (it did indeed rain through most of the day), and references the 45 RPM copy of the song hidden with the jewel.
  • "laughing" is meant to suggest Minnehaha Creek.

CLUE #11
  • "No need to worry, no need to cry" is a lyric from Prince’s song "I Would Die 4 U," which comprised his "posthumous duet" with Justin Timberlake at Superbowl LII (referenced in Clue #12).
  • "Minneapolis, Minnesota — this one is 4 U" not only confirms the city in which the jewel is hidden, but also directly references Justin Timberlake’s introduction to his Superbowl Prince cover—which he dedicated to the city.
  • "Trace our vector to a sector, as the sparrow flies" is meant to suggest following the path of the "purple arrow" (referenced in Clue #12)—formed by Prince’s glyph during the Superbowl halftime show—directly to the hiding place.
  • "Dragon, poster, website, brick—purple banana, prize" is an ordered list of the important "steps" to the Goose Chase at U.S. Bank Stadium—and the hunt at Minnehaha Creek: By following the dragon to the poster, you can learn the website address; by following the website address and poster to the Legacy Bricks, you can learn our brick’s inscription; by entering our inscription into the website, you gain the treasure map  (and by entering the password, access to it), which in turn reveals the location of the purple banana and, with a bit of sleuthing, the jewel.
  • "Beneath the leaves and twigs and branches nature cast aside" tells hunters to move natural detritus on the ground in order to reveal the MacGuffin.
  • "by the waters of Lake Minnetonka purified" tells hunters to look near Minnehaha Creek (the source of which is Lake Minnetonka).
  • "To make it final, grab the vinyl" references the 45 RPM copy of "Purple Rain" hidden with the jewel.
  • "laugh out loud a little bit" is meant to suggest Minnehaha Creek.
  • "get to un-unspoolin’" is a callback to "get to un-unspool"—a cryptogram for Minnehaha Creek—from Clue #1.

CLUE #12
  • The first stanza directs hunters "on a beeline" from U.S. Bank Stadium ("Follow the purple arrow [...] from our virtuoso maestoso’s posthumous duet")—along its bearing of approximately 160°—to Minnehaha Creek ("For [...] about four miles [...] To the purifying waters of a laughing rivulet").
  • The second stanza directs hunters to a specific portion of Minnehaha Creek Park, on that same "beeline" from the first stanza: "a spot where [Lake Minnetonka’s] waters flow from left to right behind" is meant to suggest the southern side of the creek, while "Keep in sight the flashing light—and the purple banana, too" is meant to suggest two important landmarks visible from the hiding spot: a flashing yellow pedestrian crossing light, and a purple banana on a tree across the creek.
  • "That ain’t Lake Minnetonka" is a famous punchline from the film Purple Rain.
  • The third stanza pinpoints the site—"a hop, a skip, and a jump" "From the stream;" "underneath some twigs and leaves;" "downhill from the [speed] bump;" "near the branches reaching out to scrape the ground"—and references the MacGuffin: "Find the swag inside the bag—it’s camouflaged" by leaves "and bound" with an unreasonable amount of tape.
  • With the publication of Clue #12, the colors of the TC Treasure homepage were changed from the traditional red and blue to purple, and the words "May u live 2 see the dawn" added to the bottom of the page, signifying the end of the hunt in a final homage to Purple Rain and Prince.

(A poster on the pole of a traffic light at the northeast corner of Chicago Avenue and 6th Street)
  • The bottom of the poster is cut to appear as though it was torn; the cut follows the path of Minnehaha Creek. Additionally, the bottom portion of the poster is taped to a bench across the creek from the hiding place.
  • Navigating to the web address on the poster——reveals the same verbiage as Clue #6 and the map from the poster; clicking on the map yields Bonus Clue #2.

  • "You’re on the right track, but now you need to figure where it leads—" is meant to let hunters know they’re getting close, but that they’ll still need to crack a few more puzzles.
  • "Go find our brick and enter what it reads.," is meant to suggest that hunters look for a brick with the inscription "JOHANNES WAS HERE TC TREASURE;"  submitting the inscription yields an encrypted PDF treasure map.
  • The password to access the PDF can be gleaned from the context surrounding the clue—in particular the phrase "dispense with the preamble" from Clue #6 (reiterated on the bonus clue landing page): Dropping Fran Tarkenton’s first name and entering simply "tarkenton" yields Bonus Clue #3.
  • Eagle-eyed hunters may have noticed an Easter egg in the phone number listed on the false U.S. Bank Stadium website: "777-9311"—a reference to the Prince-penned song of the same name, performed by Morris Day & The Time.

  • The 26 letters that form the "path of the purple arrow"—our "alphabet street" from Clue #8—are a cipher that reveals "get to un-unspool" as a cryptogram for "Minnehaha Creek."
  • The Prince glyph represents U.S. Bank Stadium, and is oriented on the page to match the glyph from the Superbowl LII halftime show, with the top of the page representing north.

  • When the arrow on the treasure map from Bonus Clue #3 is aligned with the cut on the poster from Bonus Clue #1 (or with its bottom portion on the bench facing the hiding spot), the arrow points out the jewel’s exact location along Minnehaha Creek.
  • From the first mention of a Prince lyric in line one of the first clue—and without much else to go on—an extremely astute treasure hunter might connect the arrow of Prince’s glyph from the Superbowl LII halftime show at U.S. Bank Stadium to Minnehaha Creek—or the "waters of Lake Minnetonka."

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