Manitou Days

A summer festival celebrating White Bear Lake!

Congratulations to Ed Brodie on locating the 2020 Manitou Days Medallion.

Please scroll down for a full explanation of this year's clues and side challenges. We sincerely hope that this hunt brought a little joy into an otherwise disjointed and difficult year. We also hope that you will join us again in 2021! 

- Your friends at Coldwell Banker Realty, Burnet Title and Guaranteed Rate Affinity

2020 Medallion Hunt Clue Explanations

Post-Hiding Message

With hiding complete, it’s nearly time to compete

We’ll provide a variety of ways to reach our scene.

With challenge and spontaneity paired -- be prepared

Seek clues at 6, but also be ready early and between... 

With the medallion hidden, hunters were alerted to the fact that some optional side challenges would be employed in addition to the release of a new clue at 6:00PM each evening. The first side challenge came in the form of a cryptogram, posted with this message, and a second visual challenge would be mentioned after the fifth clue. However, local businesses put up the visual clues on the first day of the hunt. Did you perhaps pick up “Be Prepared!” -- a major song from the Lion King? 

Clue #1

Into the twenties we roar, and like never before

We are feeling agog for a Manitou Days fest.

Heeding Fauci’s call we’ve ensured there’s room to sprawl 

Still, inflate your 6ft bubble and join the quest! 

As our hunt turns 40, we’re still feeling sporty

With even a few new tricks up our sleeve.

Be wise and check the rules; be sure you’re schooled

On public land  it hides -- on this we would never deceive. 

So with rapturous eyes study our cryptic guise

As it holds a surplus clue to carry on the way.

Hints for code-breaking are very free for the taking

At some previous hiding spots; a total of 20 are in play.

This one’s  your call: go for one or go for them all

No two are the same; one reveals vowels completely.

You may choose to share or say “For only me do I care!”

It’s up to you: best to collaborate or act discreetly?  

Finally: if you launch into town, put your hunting gear down

Toward our local enterprises do cavort .

This year’s been a boner for many a business owner

Now’s the time to stand and show our support.


This year’s Manitou Days theme, “Roaring Bears” fits perfectly with the spot that we had chosen as Lion’s (“roar”) Park is just across White Bear Avenue from the site. “40” referenced the speed limit of White Bear Avenue, beside which the medallion was hidden. “Marks” hinted at the Mark Sather Trail on the east side of White Bear Avenue. Before hunting, players were encouraged to check our rules, which for the first time eliminated Mahtomedi and White Bear Lake Area Schools as possible hiding spots. In a new twist to celebrate our 40th anniversary, we constructed a coded puzzle for hunters to solve, which would reveal a bonus clue. Clues to which symbols corresponded to which letters were hidden at (or very near) 20 hiding spots from previous years. The decoding hints were attached to wooden souvenir medallions with this year’s hunt design (created by Lexi Ames).  The most helpful code-breaker, providing all of the vowels and two other key consonants, was deposited at Fox Meadow Park. It was also put on the back of a piece of artwork that celebrates White Bear Lake, donated by Troy Strand. Both Ames and Strand are local artists. In this time of COVID-19, hunters were also asked to consider patronizing our local businesses. Those who did may have stumbled upon our visual clues in the exterior windows/doors of many of our businesses, which wouldn’t be formally mentioned until after the fifth clue.  

Coded Bonus Clue:

Aqueous linking leads to a place for drinking

Little stingers school with significant growth delay.

Ultimate phosphorus attack -- photosynthesis on crack

Mine for a treatment;  if an otter: zestfully  play.


According to the DNR, Goose Lake is one of the most impaired lakes in our watershed. There is an excess of  nutrients, such as phosphorus, and overpopulation of photosynthesizing algae. It is of particular concern because Goose Lake connects, via Lambert Creek, to Vadnais Lake. Vadnais Lake is the source of drinking water for the St. Paul area. City council meetings over the past several months have sought to find solutions, including a boating ban and alum treatment (did you catch the first letter of each line?). As reported in the White Bear Press (Oct, 2019), animal life is limited in the lake to "stunted bullheads." Despite water quality, members of the Midwest Otter Ski Club proudly call Goose Lake their home and plan to continue their lake activities. 

Clue #2

As you hit the road toward treasure’s abode

The following may ring a bell:

The father, son and oh so spirited one

Clean up and come together quite well. 

Perhaps it still does hide--that most prized decoding guide

There, in the northern reaches of Fox Meadow.

With quarry now in sight, we yell it with great might

To all chuffed hunters who may follow in tow.


White Bear Avenue, which ran near the hiding spot, has been claimed through the Adopt-A-Highway program (“clean up”) by Trinity Lutheran Church (“father, son,” “spirit” and “one”) on Bellaire (“bell”) Avenue. The second stanza revealed where the most helpful decoding code to the cryptogram could be found (Fox Meadow Park) but, more importantly, it hinted at Tally’s bar. Fox hunting has been a fixture of British culture. In these English hunts, a fox is commonly referred to as a “quarry” and the call exclaimed when the fox is spotted by the hunting clan is “Tally Ho!” Tally’s Bar was located just northeast of the treasure site. Those looking up the word “chuffed” would have also seen that it is a British slang word, hinting at the theme of the stanza. 

Clue #3:

If in grassy wilderness you stir, we seek to secour

So find the foundational imprimatur. 

For here a whipple initiated a ripple

That’s since been launched  across the water.

Some stones soar beyond the hunter’s door

With a coastline standing between.

So find neer’s peak for the info you seek

Lift northward toward the treasure scene.


The clue referenced St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal cemetery, which is also the original site of St. John in the Wilderness church. The tallest obelisk (“peak”) belongs to the Rene family (for which “neer” is an anagram). At that site is a plaque with information about the original St. John in the Wilderness church. The plaque shares that the church was christened by Bishop Henry Whipple in 1861. Since then, the church has moved to its current location on Clark Street (“across the water”). The “hunter’s door” referred to the hunter green trim found on the sewer lift station north of the cemetery. Between the graves (“stones”) and the pumphouse runs South Shore Boulevard (“coastline stands between”). From there, hunters were instructed to move north with the word “lift” referring to the Lift Station (L-05) at the intersection of White Bear Avenue and South Shore Boulevard. 

Clue #4:

Those Nordic sons bussed their buns

To Beartown -- long was their way.

A stately word and a native bird

Show  winning was just in their DNA.

He caught a dream riding a red machine

But through marriages he would toddle.

Hustling pays, but soon they’d part ways

Don’t dare offend a toothpaste model.


The “Nordic sons” in the first line referred to both the Amundson and Johnson families, prominent boat builders in White Bear Lake. Both families emigrated from Norway (“the way”) and established boat works very near to where the medallion was hidden. Both businesses created championship boats. Amundson Boat Works boasted of its Virginia (“stately name”) and Johnson Boat Works of its Minnekta or, when translated from a Native language, means “water bird.” The old Johnson Boat Works site now houses shops and apartments. Near the entrance facing the lake is an artistic piece that resembles a section of DNA. The second stanza referred to Johnny Bench, a catcher (“caught”) for the very successful 1970’s Cincinnati Reds (“red machine”) baseball franchise. However, one of the most interesting stories tied to this famous athlete surrounds one of his ex-wives and former toothpaste model Vicki Chesser. They were married -- and divorced -- in 1975. The marriage was reportedly cut short because Bench encouraged Chesser to pose for Hustler magazine for $25K. Benches played a key role in locating this year’s treasure; two benches formed the northern and southern boundaries along Goose Lake and the medallion was specifically placed in a patch of grass where a bench in Lion’s Park visually aligned with a table and shelter. 

Clue #5

As our hollow plot does harden, picture a garden

Whose gelidity was never meant for growth.

Perhaps daft wordplay, but Aries in a passageway

Is a hint that you’re certain not to loathe. 

When we speak your curiosity easily does pique

You’re left, on the surface, dry and clear.

Pay off your threat -- on moving pockets don’t bet

And farm for treasure with nary a fear.


The history of the area surrounding the treasure site is rich with buildings that came and went. Ramaley’s Winter Garden (“garden” and “gelidity not meant for growth”) was constructed where Lion’s Park now stands. The wordplay of “Aries in a long passageway” hinted at RAM ALLEY, or Ramaley. The second stanza referred to the infamous Plantation nightclub, which opened in the former Ramaley Winter Garden in July of 1930. During its time, the club played host to many notorious figures during the gangster area as a speakeasy (“speak” and “easily”). “On the surface,” “dry,” “pay off your threat,”  and “nary a fear” referred to the money given to law enforcement to look away from the sale of alcohol during Prohibition. “On moving pockets don’t bet” hinted at Plantation owner Ben Harris who, in 1934, was arrested for operating a roulette wheel. Finally, “farm” also hinted at the nightclub’s name as a plantation is a common name for a large southern farm.

Visual Clue Message

When we started this spree, we made a plea

To help businesses while COVID wears its crown.

We have some news: we delivered 10 visual clues

Posted since Day 1 in windows downtown. 

So take to the streets, find trinkets and eats

All while narrowing in on the loot.

In some normalcy you’ll bask, even with a mask

And you’re bound to have a hoot!

Clue #6

You’ll get acid when microbes aren’t placid

Those buggers let no carb go to waste.

After the previously referred, it’s occurred

Just add some cream to augment the taste.

By a river cool, nail down the costly jewel

Crystal clear is the artist’s display.

From beside the fowl flew the hued owl

While the reeds did softly sway.


The medallion was hidden on the edge of the Cottage Park neighborhood of White Bear Lake (and across the street from Cottage Park Drive) and the first stanza referred to the process of making cottage cheese. Bacteria consume dairy sugars and, over time, it will curd (“it’s occurred”). Lastly, cream is added to complete the process. The second stanza referred to current and (and some previous) tenants of White Bear Lake Shopping Center. “River cool” pointed to St. Croix Cleaners; “nail down” to Sun Nails; “Cost” to Cost Cutters; “Crystal” to Crystal Rock; and “artist’s display” to Artiste Coiffure. “Hued owl” referred to Red Owl, once located where Kowalskis now is, and “from the fowl,” referring to the shores of Goose Lake. Another store that is now gone is Reed Drug, the last store referenced in the clue. 

Clue #7

From just a little leap came a generous reap 

Marking quite a haul for the townies.  

It surely wasn’t bound to a specific ground

It’s loss would’ve given Sara the frownies. 

Go to where needles nine so elegantly align

And where percolation is an act of  art. 

Hunter’s needn’t canoodle to locate kit and caboodle

Stay hot on the trail (but at least 6ft apart).


The first stanza referred to White Bear’s historic town hall (“haul”), designed by Cass Gilbert, which was originally built directly across White Bear Avenue from the hiding site (to the best of our knowledge, it was located near the service road connecting the lake frontage road and White Bear Avenue -- you’ll see a group of tall cottonwoods there). William and Agnes Leip (“leap”) donated the land for the original town hall site. Since its construction, it has been moved a total of four times (in 1885 to the current Wells Fargo Parking Lot; in 1951 to Hoffman Road; and finally to its current location is at Polar Lakes Park in 2015). The White Bear Lake Area Historical Society, whose executive director is Sara Markoe Hanson, ensured its preservation by moving it to Polar Lakes Park. From the treasure’s site, Lion’s Park was in clear view and the second stanza highlighted some main points of the park. For starters, the park hosts a line of nine pine trees (“needles”). The parking lot was specially designed for drainage (“percolation”) and that process is outlined by signs in the parking lot. The park also hosts a canoe rack (“canoodle”). “Hot on the trail” referred to the Mark Sather trail, which runs along Old White Bear Avenue. All features of Lion’s Park are visible from the hiding spot. 

Clue #8

With cross in hand, he doesn’t quite take a stand

And once went from bare to beachy. 

Known to be appealin’ to the wheelin’ and dealin’

Notice him and you’ll be feelin’ peachy.

From among the bowers, eye the towers

Gleaming brighter than the cliffs of Dover.

Near the gulf they stand -- on private land

While the crown sits there in the crossover. 


One of the most iconic sights in White Bear Lake is the bear (“bare”) above Polar Chevrolet. He sits (“doesn’t quite take a stand”) with the Chevrolet symbol -- a cross -- in his hands. Residents of White Bear Lake in the 1980s will surely remember when he donned a painted-on swimsuit and sunglasses (“bare to beachy”). He sits above the car dealership (“wheelin’ and dealin’).  The second stanza also focused on what could be seen to the southwest across Goose Lake. When the sun is shining, the tall white storage tanks from Sarpito Dairy are very bright. The tanks are located near a Gulf Station and the Dairy Queen (“crown”) can be found between them (“crossover”). 

Clue #9

Don’t be a coward, Lion’s been scoured

Yet nearby is a scene that’s hot.

So, muzzle that roar and bring it ashore

For over the swale is this year’s spot.

As you make your way, don’t be like “that guy” Jay

Frogger ain’t part of this deed.

To safely reach treasured abode, channel Abbey Road

Lights and beeps will provide just the help you need.

Then, if you’re STILL in lurch in your ongoing search

For our wooden round --

Johnny back five, for twixt them you’ll arrive

At our hallowed treasure ground.


While we typically hide the medallion in parks, nearby Lion’s Park was not host to this year’s treasure. The first part of the clue alerted hunters to move away from that space. If they went across the swale, which refers to the native plantings now found between the two White Bear Avenues, they would arrive at the walking path along Goose Lake. The second stanza urged hunters not to JAYwalk and play a game of frogger on White Bear Avenue. Instead, they were encouraged to use the crosswalk at the corner of White Bear Avenue and Highway 61 (the cover of Abbey Road depicts the Beatles crossing at a crosswalk). “Johnny back five” hinted at the Johnny Bench reference in Clue 4. The medallion was placed between two benches along the lakeshore. 

Clue #10

Gather your gaggle, then carefully finagle

Your way to the shores of Goose Lake.

Where two benches stand, move toward middle land

It sits waiting for a hungry hunter to take.

It’s time for the masses to sift through the grasses

Think you’re a winner? Therein lies your proof.

Stroll the ledge along water’s edge

To where bench and tables align under pavilion’s roof.


Final directions to the medallion, which was wrapped in grass clippings and placed in a divot in the ground.

Location of Souvenir Medallions

Lakewood Hills (1995/2019)

Lakewood Hills (2018)

Matoska Park (2017)

Fox Meadow Park (2015)

Moon Lake Park (2011)

Polar Lakes Park (2010)

Memorial Beach (2009)

Ramsey County Beach (2007)

Lion’s Park (2006)

Jack Yost Park (2005)

Bossard Park (2004)

Wildwood Park (1999)

Bellaire Park (1996)

Four Seasons Park (1994)

Bloomquist Park (1991)

Mead Park (1989)

Bellaire Beach (1988)

Clark Avenue (1985)

Ramaley Park (1982)

Four Seasons Park (1980)

Notice that the Lion's Park souvenir coin solved the letters W, I and N. 

Location/Explanation of Visual Clues

Image #1

Location: Coldwell Banker Realty (4801 Highway 61)

This is a shot of the character Kowalski from the Pixar movie Madagascar (2005). The medallion was hidden across the road from Kowalski’s Supermarket.

Image #2

Location: Washington Square (4736 Washington Ave)

This image, of an otter, pointed to the Midwest Otters Waterskiing Club, which calls Goose Lake their home.

Image #3

Location: Truly (2175 3rd Street)

According to a White Bear Press article from October 2019, bullheads with stunted growth are the only fish that can currently survive in Goose Lake.

Image #4

Location: Sheepy Yarn Shoppe (2185 3rd St)

This image is of a lucky square. The solution to a 5x5 lucky square is 65. White Bear Avenue is also called County Highway 65.

Image #5

Manitou Grill & Event Center (2171 4th St)

This photo is of famous architect Cass Gilbert. Gilbert designed the original White Bear Town Hall. While it has been moved to multiple places since its construction, it’s original site of construction was across the street from the medallion’s hiding spot.

Image #6

Location: Farmer’s Insurance (2202 5th Street)

Video gamers likely identified this as a screenshot from Untitled Goose Game (2019) where the gamer plays a goose causing a ruckus all over an English village. This image was a nod to the medallion being hidden at Goose Lake.

Image #7

Location: Anchor Coffee House (4742 Washington Square)

This is a famous scene from Forrest Gump (1995). The hint in this picture is the iconic bench, which appears in many scenes. The medallion was hidden between two benches on the shores of Goose Lake.

Image #8

Location: Lake Country Booksellers (4766 Washington Ave)

This is a picture of former White Bear Lake city manager Mark Sather, after whom the path near the medallion was named. Sather served as city manager for 31 years before retiring in 2016.

Image #9

Location: The Minnesotan (2186 4th St)

This photograph of an unnamed boy from the 1940s, shows the ski jump once located at Battle Creek Park, in St. Paul. It was located at the southern terminus of White Bear Avenue. Our medallion was placed at the northern terminus. 

Image #10

Location: Grandma’s Bakery (2184 4th St)

This is an image of Disney’s Pinocchio. Pinocchio’s nose grows when he is lying -- or lyin’. Lion’s Park was located just east of the hiding spot. 

Medallion Hunt Rules

The Manitou Days Treasure Hunt is sponsored by Coldwell Banker Realty, Burnet Title and Guaranteed Rate. The medallion is hidden on public property in White Bear Lake, White Bear Township, or Birchwood.

The first clue will be given on Tuesday, August 11 at 6:00 PM. A new clue will be released daily at 6:00 PM until the medallion is found (for up to 10 days). Clues can be found on the Manitou Days Facebook page or this website. 


If you find the $1000 medallion, please IMMEDIATELY call the number printed on the medallion. Nobody wants to keep searching for a medallion that has already been found! Once we have verified that the medallion has been located, we will promptly announce the end of the hunt through our website and social media platforms. 


At no time should property be damaged.  The medallion is hidden in such a way where hunters will not need garden tools, will not need to swim, nor will need to engage in any activity that puts themselves or others in danger. The medallion will never be hidden in a way where ornamental plants or garden beds will need to be trampled upon. Hunters are encouraged to politely help each other remember these simple rules so that our public spaces can remain safe and fun for all people who enjoy our public spaces.


Hunters can be assured that the medallion will not be hidden at the Fillebrown House, Tamarack Nature Center, or in any construction zone. The medallion will also not be hidden on school property. 


Please also be mindful of others during this time of social distancing. The CDC has recommended six feet of distance between you and fellow hunters.


In the event that the medallion is not found within 24 hours of the release of the last clue, Coldwell Banker Realty and its co-sponsors reserve the right to end the hunt and donate the $1000 prize money to a local charity.

History of the Medallion Hunt

The Manitou Days Medallion Hunt was created by Burnet Realty in 1980 and is the oldest continuous suburban treasure hunt in the Twin Cities Metro Area.  The event was the brainchild of real estate agents Jan Rapheal and Sandy Espe Sorenson.  They enlisted the help of Jack Moser, then clue writer for the St. Paul Winter Carnival Treasure Hunt.  The reigns were passed to real estate agent Jan Holtz from 1995-2012, before they returned to Sandy Espe Sorenson in 2013.  White Bear Lake native, Chad O’Leary, has written the clues since 1995.