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Treasure hunt for bronze medallions celebrating Neenah Police Department sesquicentennial hits halfway point

bronze medallion and certificate of authenticity for neenah treasure hunt
Posted at 8:53 PM, Jul 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-03 21:53:59-04

NEENAH (NBC 26) — The City of Neenah Police Department is hosting a special treasure hunt in honor of the sesquicentennial celebration of both the city and the department.

Every week of the year, a clue is released on the department's Facebook page for residents to interpret. The fastest gets a prize: a solid bronze medallion.

“We've been following the treasure hunt that Neenah has been doing for a while since roughly the beginning. And many near misses. And lots of time spent deciphering clues,” said Jamison Clark. He and his daughter, Evelyn, were the proud finders of the medallion for week 27.

The clues are written every few weeks by seven members of Neenah PD, whose aim is to infuse local history with a variety of puzzles.

"Our goal is to appeal to all different skill sets, all different types of people, different demographics," said Community Policing Coordinator Joe Benoit. "You know, some people might be into the cipher code. Some people might be into word riddles. Sometimes we do a picture or even a video — there was one week we did a sound file, where the only clue was a sound file."

The idea was a fun one, so Benoit said it's worth the extra time it can take to put together.

"There is some time spent on this. Not an inordinate amount of time, but it can be challenging. It's a lot to keep up on with all the other duties, but well worth it for the community involvement, the camaraderie — to the whole mission of the Neenah Police Department," Benoit said.

And the community involvement has certainly validated the effort.

“We've developed somewhat of a following of community members that are very interested in this,” said Benoit.

Some of the more dedicated followers of the activity can race pretty quickly to the right conclusions. Benoit said that the fastest solve took around 15 minutes, but that is unusual.

Another instance involved a man who had a background in natural resources, who was able to use his specialized knowledge to win the week's medallion.

"It was among some sticks. You know, it looks, obviously, like it's just sitting in the woods somewhere. But it was a very close up picture and the gentleman that found that actually... was able to identify the species of some of the sticks that were in the picture, and he, being from the area, knew that that particular species was very prevalent at the Carpenter Preserve. So, he focused all his attention, because the clue didn't go out until 8 p.m. last Monday, and I found out later that he and another fellow both had headlamps on around 10 o'clock at night, searching the woods," Benoit said. "And then the next morning, he came back out very early in the morning and ended up finding it."

Benoit said that after half a year of doing this, it's becoming a fun reminder of the variety of interests and problem-solving abilities of his fellow community members.

"What we on the treasure hunt team have learned is our community is super smart... There's so many different people that know so much about all sorts of different things," said Benoit.

Neenah medallion hunt rules
Rules for the Neenah Police Department sesquicentennial medallion hunt

The medallion is a solid bronze cast, three inches in diameter, weighing over eight ounces each. Benoit said the cost of the coins was just over $4,000, paid entirely through donated funds. According to Benoit, no police department budget or taxes paid for the fun.

Anyone interested in playing can find the clues posted publicly at the Neenah Police Department Facebook page on Mondays. The posts are made public, so no Facebook membership is needed to play along.

The time of day that the clues will be posted is sometimes announced ahead of time, on Sunday, but not always.