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Scavenger hunt explores what lies beneath Nelson

Elliot Robins is organizing a scavenger hunt on April 27 inspired by Nelson’s underground. - Greg Nesteroff photo
Elliot Robins is organizing a scavenger hunt on April 27 inspired by Nelson’s underground.
— image credit: Greg Nesteroff photo

An unusual scavenger hunt this month will lead participants in pursuit of the secrets of Nelson’s underground.

Elliot Robins, who is organizing the Sunday, April 27 event, says he can’t give away too many details without spoiling the game, but promises “A series of clues, challenges and riddles that will lead you on an adventure throughout Nelson that features history, culture, colourful characters and local folklore.”

“I wanted to host a really fun Nelson experience,” he says. “But I didn’t want it to be just a scavenger hunt where you collect random items on a list and earn points or too much like a walking tour. I wanted to somehow tie those elements together.”

The theme comes from the city’s so-called catacombs — a cribbed area beneath Ward Street between Baker and Vernon that has been elevated to urban legend status. While participants won’t actually get to visit that space, it inspired Robins to create a narrative mixing fact and fiction.

“It’s been a lot of research and talking to different people to make sure I have my facts straight about the underground since there are so many misconceptions,” he says. “I try to take a step back and in all steps of the process and think ‘Is this something I would want to do?’”

Robins has been in a few scavenger hunts himself, but nothing like this. Similar things exist in larger cities, including Accomplice New York, which marries the search for clues with theatrical elements, leaving participants wondering who’s in on the game and who isn’t.

In Secrets of Nelson’s Underground, teams of up to five will receive an emailed document three days prior to the event telling them where their adventure starts. They’ll be given from 4 to 6 p.m. to solve the mystery (there’s no bonus for finishing first) and afterward meet up at Mike’s Place for an on-tap beer — included with the price of the ticket — and a chance to win tickets to the Funk Hunters at Spiritbar on May 10 or a $30 gift certificate from the Kootenay Co-op. The team with the most points also wins a jug of NBC beer.

The deadline to sign up is April 21. Tickets are $23.50 and can be purchased online.

Robins, who has been working on the event for the last two months, said if it goes well, he’ll put on another. “There are so many directions you could go in Nelson. It’s endlessly fascinating.”

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