Three medallions hidden during Catfish Days by the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce were found in near-record time.
In fact the first medallion was claimed within 30 minutes of the contest's start-9 a.m. Friday-by Tim Humbert of Braceville.
Humbert, who claimed a $250 medallion 11 years ago, found 2018 Willy Whiskers worth $100. He got the clue for Willy, read it and said it hit him right away.
The clue read:
Catch Willy Whiskers
I might swim away,
To distance shores where
You can't reach me.
However you try,
All efforts will fail.
Lucky you'll be
"For some reason I looked down the page and I saw the words 'City Hall.' It just jumped out at me and I took off for city hall hoping no one else had been there," Humbert said.
He was right, as the first letter of each line spelled out "city hall" as you read it vertically.
The semi-retired pressman got a $50 bonus for taking selfies at five sponsoring businesses and posting them on social media.
Just about the same time Humbert was claiming his medallion, Melissa Strong and Loren Jay were starting their search for the Mudder of All Catfish. They had their three children with them as they tried to decipher the clue:
The Land of Lincoln
Don't believe 'em,
Catfish aren't stinkin'.
Because I've withstood
The test of time,
Understand what makes
All things chime.
They started by visiting the playground across from St. Rose Church, thinking that "chime" was a key word and you'd hear the chime of church bells. No luck there, so they went to the library where they found several other medallion hunters already combing the bushes.
"It seems that every where we went we were bumping into other people who were already hunting for the medallions," commented Strong.
They didn't give up, combing through Veteran's Park across from the Island City Baptist Church (another place for bells). Next they changed their focus to "the test of time" which took them to the Wilmington Area Historical Society and the downtown park with the city clock.
That's when Jay remembered there was an old watch repair shop on North Water Street that still says "watch shop" on the front of the building. She suggested they give it a try.
Jay drove there, Strong got out, walked to the front door, looked behind an abandoned flower pot and turned to walk back to the car. That's when she noticed something unusual underneath the welcome mat in front of the door.
"I could see it was raised at one end so I flipped it back and there was the medallion.
The "test of time" was crucial to the clue as the old watch shop was a place where they would literally test time on watches. The clue also had under(stand) and welcome in it as in look under the welcome mat.
The last medallion found was Denise and Rick - the Mar Theatre, named after the 2017 Wilmington business people of the year.
Breanah Ceranek, along with brother Joaquin and Zavier Marasco, had looked Friday for "The Mar" medallion but had no luck. They tried the Wilmington Library again on Saturday morning when she noticed a rock on the north side of the building that wasn't so noticeable before.
"I said, 'Hey, that rock wasn't like that yesterday.' So I flipped it over and couldn't believe the medallion was there," Ceranek said.
The clue read:
You (or I) don't have to go far
To get to the Mar
To see a great flick
Shown by Denise and Rick
Theirs is a great history
It's certainly no mystery
I have their next booking
So you keep on looking
The tip-off words were you didn't have to go far from the Mar and the book in book(ings).
Ceranek said it was the third year they have participated in the hunt and that this time they stuck with it.
"It seems like in past years we were always just a step behind other winners," she said. "We'd figure out a couple of places and then find it had already been found."
The trio got $400 in chamber dollars for finding the Mar.
In past years the contest took until Sunday before all the medallions were found. Three times medallions were never found by the Sunday night deadline and were brought back the next year.