Rome cashes in on cachers

October 4, 2018

Romans will notice even more foot traffic on Broad Street the rest of this week as close to 1,200 visitors hunt the downtown area for clues to solving puzzles that are part of a geocaching mega-event in Rome through Sunday.

Geocaching is simply a game of hide and seek for hidden objects by means of GPS coordinates and clues that are delivered by a variety of methods.

Co-organizer Jim Williamson said that people are coming to Rome from all over the county and several foreign nations for the event that has grown to become one of the three largest geocaching events around the world.

“It just gets bigger and bigger every year,” Williamson said.

Volunteers from all over the Southeast have been in Rome the last couple of days, building a massive haunted house on the stage in Ridge Ferry Park. Steve Brown, from Senoia, said the crew reuses much of the same lumber from one year to the next to hold down the costs as much as possible.

The activity started Wednesday night at the Civic Center with a registration event where participants picked up their packets and held a meet and greet where they get some puzzle pieces in their packet.

“They’ll start working on that Thursday, Friday and Saturday to solve the mystery that has been set up for them,” Williamson said.

Once the initial puzzle has been solved, the participants will check in at Ridge Ferry Park where they will get into the haunted house, which is a series of three escape rooms.

“They then have to figure their way out using the clues they have already obtained during their adventures to that point. If they solve the puzzle quickly, they can check into the park as early as Friday,” Williamson said.

“Geocaching is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds,” Williamson said. Nine leaders from Seattle will be coming to the Rome event.

“Andi (Beyer) and I started geocaching in 2006 and it was months before we met any other geocachers. Now it has evolved into more of a social activity,” Williamson said “Groups come and of course there are 13 mega-events, those with more than 500 attendees. We are the third largest in the United States now.”

Patricia Chow, from the Washington, D.C., area, is back in Rome for her second Going Caching event locally.

“We just like the event and the organizers do a really good job of arranging events and activities for all the visitors,” Chow said. “It’s one of the things we really look forward to every fall.”

Williamson said a number of downtown merchants have agreed to play along with participants.

“Even the police force, we tell them we’ve got geocachers coming and they’re going to be looking in the bushes and other places so they’re behind us 100 percent,” Williamson said.

A big flash mob is set for 7:30 Thursday night on Clock Tower Hill, followed by a pub crawl. Those not so much interested in the pub scene will have an opportunity to participate in the Victorian Haunted Walk. Lisa Smith, executive director of the Rome Office of Tourism, said her staff will be stationed at various spots downtown, dressed in Victorian-era garb relating spooky stories of Rome’s historic past.

“It just blows my mind how big this thing is,” Smith said.

The Barnsley Resort will also be the setting for a lot of geocaching activity. Some 30 geocaches have been hidden at the resort between Rome and Adairsville.

The Roman Chariot golf carts that help transport people downtown will be equipped with karaoke equipment featuring song lists that includes such haunting melodies as “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles, Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash” and AC/DC’s “Hells Bells.”

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