By DUNCAN CRARY
TROY — The Troy Cultural Alliance launched a “geocaching” / “letterbox” treasure hunt last Sunday, June 12 during the Flag Day Parade, to promote Troy’s bicentennial celebration.
There will be eight hidden “caches” (waterproof plastic boxes) hidden at historically significant sites not far from the Flag Day Parade route.
Inside each hidden box there is a unique rubber stamp featuring an original image of an historic Troy building or landmark drawn by local artist Ben Karis-Nix using a computer and stylus. Tom Tongue, executive director of Tech Valley Center of Gravity, made the rubber stamps using one of the center’s laser cutting machines.
“We wanted historically significant sites that have reflected 200 years of Troy’s history, whether it’s industrial or social civic,” said Kathy Sheehan, Rensselaer County and City of Troy historian. “If this goes well we have identified more sites throughout Troy, including Lansingburgh, where we can hide more boxes and stamps during the rest of the bicentennial year.”
According to Sheehan, this project borrows a little bit from “geocaching,” which is a modern outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices, and “letterboxing,” which traces its roots back to 19th century Britain and features remote boxes for leaving postcards to be found and mailed by the next hiker.
“This is a fun, different twist on something that has been going on for a few hundred years,” Sheehan said. “You’re going to have to look at the buildings, look under things, look at the clues, to find the hidden boxes.”
While seven of the eight images are straightforward depictions of the Troy landmarks, The Green Island Bridge is fancifully depicted as “TroyBot,” a giant superhero that can transform itself from a bridge into a benevolent humanoid robot protector of the city.
The beloved character, created by Karis-Nix, already appears on t-shirts, in online videos and in murals.
“I think I’ve convinced my five-year old that TroyBot is real. Whenever we drive over it, he says ‘That’s the bridge that turns into Troybot! He’s a bridge right now but sometimes he turns into robot,’” Karis-Nix said.