By Paul Thompson
Northeast News – Sponsored Content for RideKC
We get it: the allure of air conditioning on a steamy summer day is alluring. But there is such a thing as going stir-crazy, and RideKC has a cure for that summer affliction.
It’s called the RideKC Scavenger Hunt Volume 2, and it takes hunters through Kansas City’s downtown corridor along the RideKC Main MAX line. It’s a clever idea by RideKC that led to a less-clever idea for the Northeast News crack team/editorial staff: what if we used the scavenger hunt as an opportunity for team-building and collective problem-solving with our organization’s summer interns?
So we packed five deep into a mid-size sedan – myself, Creative Director Bryan Stalder, and interns Elisabeth Slay, Dominique McCrary and Catalina Melgoza – and bee lined over to RideKC’s 3rd and Grand park and ride facility, which was the suggested launch point for the scavenger hunt. Over the next several hours, the hunt tested our collective acuity, while offering an excuse to toil around a downtown corridor that admittedly wasn’t a familiar haunt for our new interns.
The scavenger hunt itself was broken down into eight sections, with two quests at each stop, and complete with helpful hints to guide us along the way. Early on, it became clear that the hunt would guide us to new horizons: the very first clue brought us to the Town of Kansas Bridge in the River Market, which I’ll acknowledge I had never even heard of before. The walking bridge was neat, though: it brought us north out of the City Market and over the Missouri River, culminating with a picturesque, panoramic lookout point over the river. It was a beautiful view, which also provided our first history lesson of the adventure: What Mayor of Kansas City took office in 1855?
From there, we only encountered more tidbits of Kansas City history: the scavenger hunt led us to the Old Chouteau Trading Post, the Vision statue in City Market, and on towards various iconic locales in downtown Kansas City, the Crossroads District, Washington Square Park, and the Crown Center Square. We learned about the strengths and goals of our summer interns over a delicious lunch at Grinder’s, and were serenaded with macabre details about the city’s history thanks to the encyclopedic knowledge of Stalder, who’s attention to detail in those matters perhaps calls for a closer inspection.
At any rate, we ran through the hunt, slowly but surely, getting stumped on only two occasions: when we came across the site where plaques had once been prominently displayed at the Kansas City Star building, and when we were instructed to find a yellow door in a nondescript alley near Truman Road. We were game for traversing the alley, though we found ourselves ultimately deterred by graffiti in the alley which declared that “trespassers will be mutilated”; surely a joke, but not one that anyone in our party felt courageous enough to test the waters on. We ultimately fled the scene, hunt be damned, retreating to Grinder’s in the Crossroads district for a well-deserved lunch.
Aside from those two setbacks, the hunt itself was informative and fun. It led us to interesting facts about Kansas City, and gave us cause to notice elements of Kansas City’s downtown corridor that are easily overlooked: the international flags waving above Grand Boulevard, the tiled lettering in front of businesses in the Crossroads District, the Korean War Memorial at Washington Square Park, and the informational plaques the dot the passageways of The Link above Crown Center. By traversing the Main MAX bus line, the route gave our party the flexibility to jump on the bus between the eight sections of the hunt, or if we were feeling up to it, to walk the several blocks between each location.
In the end, we got 14 of the 16 scavenger hunt clues correct, and spent just over four hours traversing the downtown corridor. I would highly recommend the experience, especially for those looking for a reprieve from your phone screens and streaming devices this summer.