HIDDEN IN PLAIN sight, even sparkling when the sun was shining, the D’Orazio medallion still escaped notice; through the lineup of the bike and pet parade, and when the former Booth Central lot was used for parking all day Saturday and Sunday.
A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE — the medallion is hidden in the tuft of dead grass, front and just off center.
A scrubby tuft of dead grass was all that hid "D'Orazio," a catfish Days medallion worth $500 to the lucky finder.
But D'Orazio may have been in a location too obvious to search as it went undetected for more than 48 hours during the Wilmington Chamber's annual Catfish Days medallion hunt.
The clue for finding D'Orazio was: Now you see me, now you don't. Better get smart quick, or find me you won't.
The clear 5-inch acrylic disk was hidden near Jackson and Joliet streets on the site of the former Booth Central School. The building was razed last August and a vacant lot is all that's left.
"The key words in the clue were now you see me, now you don't and the 'smart' reference was where students went to get smart, in school," commented Eric Fisher, the Chamber's third vice president.
"Of all the medallions hidden, I thought D'Orazio would be the easiest one to find. In fact when we went to check if it was still hidden on Monday morning, it could be seen from the street as the sun reflected off it."
D'Orazio, named after the 2013 business person of the year, was the sole medallion not found during the three-day hunt. Five other medallions were awarded, paying out $775 in Chamber gift certificates. In addition, over $500 in paper medallion prizes and services were offered by sponsors.
The first medallion turned in was 2014 Willy Whiskers. Tim Humbert of Braceville collected $100 in certificates after finding it at the Lions fountain and flower display just west of the Kankakee River bridge.
The clue for Willy 2014 was: If on day one, I'm not found, keep on looking for I am round. If only I could, you'd hear me roar, but I will be silenced never more.
"At first when I read it I thought of the Lions Club building and went looking around it," Humbert admitted. "Then I remembered the lion statue that sits in front of the fountain and went there to look."
Humbert found it 9 a.m. Saturday, about 24 hours after the contest opened.
But Willy Whiskers wasn't the first one to actually be found. The Berkot's medallion was nabbed Friday morning by a first-time hunter who typed latitude and longitude coordinates into her phone for the first time.
Amy Quigley obtained the coordinates from the chamber's clue sheet and hurriedly typed them it. What popped up was a map pointing to the gazebo at Claire's Corner in downtown Wilmington. There were already others searching by the time she arrived at the park.
She was uncertain what to search for until she discovered a label that had another set of coordinates. She tried to remain calm and cool when she found the numbers so she typed them in her phone and made a run for it. The second set of coordinates led to the soccer field off Vista Drive and Debbie Lane.
"I was getting pretty excited because there were only a couple of other people there searching," Quigley said. "I acted like I was out just enjoying a beautiful day."
Quigley overturned a plastic trash can and spotted the medallion. She grabbed it and later grabbed $250 in Chamber certificates.
"It was all new to me but I had a lot of fun. Being from Braidwood I never knew of the medallion hunt so when I saw it happening here I thought I'd give it a try," she said.
The 2014 Mudder of All Catfish was found by chance by Mary Calhoon of Wilmington. She had just watched the Catfish Days Bike and Pet parade near the entrance to the North Island park when she thought she'd take a couple of minutes to look for one of the medallions.
"I always think about places where I would hide the medallions because I like little challenges like that," Calhoon said. "I looked at all the big stones leading up to the flag pole and I thought there would be a good spot to hide a medallion."
Calhoon was right. With the clue of: Why they call me Mudder, I will never know. Might be because I'm hiding, near the Catfish Days glow, 2014 Mudder was hiding in the glow of the carnival lights. She bent over to look by one rock and pulled the silvery disk out of a hollow log. It had been hiding only a short period.
Calhoon was awarded $250 in prize money.
The medallion generating the most fun was 2013 Mudder of All Catfish. It was a challenge medallion where participants visited up to seven locations where they had to complete a simple task.
At the library the challenge was to take 10 steps forward and 10 steps back while walking with a book on your head; at the Free Press the challenge was to transfer 30 miniature marshmallows or more from one container to another using only chop sticks. At Water Street Fitness participants had to try out three exercise machines, at the Barkery it was Dunkin' bones - they dunked a cookie in the cookie jar and three out of five dunks won.
The challenge at Jasmines was the Cat shoot, where participants shot a Bonkers brand cat toy into a bucket; Jaszy's Java held a tic-tac-toe challenge while Doc's Drugs had challengers balancing a butterfly net on their chins.
All who completed a challenge were given an entry form to enter a drawing for the prize. Aliyah Sanchez of Wilmington was the winner of the drawing, receiving $125 in certificates.
As for the one medallion that was not found, D'Orazio will be back next year in a new hiding spot.