ROCKINGHAM — Kimberly Vandermast honed her sleuthing skills to perfection.
A longtime participant in Richmond County Daily Journal scavenger hunts, Vandermast unearthed the paper’s Golden Shell in the woods near the Holiday Restaurant on U.S. 1 Wednesday afternoon to claim the contest’s $500 prize.
“Persistence pays off,” said Vandermast, who brought the shell to the Daily Journal office with her 16-year-old son Michael and 13-year-old daughter Madison. “I was jumping up and down in the parking lot.”
Vandermast said her kids helped her search for the coveted conch shell for the past several weeks.
“They pretty much went on every one with me except today because they had school,” she said. “It’s been a family effort.”
Clue No. 9, published in Wednesday’s paper, narrowed Vandermast’s search to a restaurant.
“Many places a shell could hide on Highway 74, but if you look there, you are opening the wrong door,” the clue reads. “Gosh, I’m getting hungry…”
Vandermast said she first tried the No. 1 diner, but “ran up on a snake” in the woods and decided to look elsewhere.
The clues, she said, were easier to interpret in retrospect.
“For some, it doesn’t make sense until you find it, and if you go back and look, it makes sense,” she said. “Some of them were pretty tough. The last clue helped us. Whoever hid it, I give them credit. They hid it pretty good.”
While Madison Vandermast had her heart set on a trip to Florida, her mom wasn’t sure how the family would spend the Golden Shell Hunt’s $500 prize.
“Don’t know yet,” she said. “I’m going to let them have some and probably do a family night. Something fun — maybe the beach.”
Daily Journal scavenger hunts are run by the newspaper’s advertising department. Clues appear twice weekly in a special advertising section and are available 24 hours in advance at sponsoring businesses.
Though the grand prize has been collected, readers still have a chance to cash in.
The Daily Journal will publish entry forms for a $100 second-chance drawing until all 12 installments of the Golden Shell Hunt section have appeared in the paper.