2021 Water Carnival medallion winners

A group of six found the 2021 Water Carnival medallion Thursday at McLeod County Veterans Park, near the pedestrian Bridge. They were, from left, front row, Angie Mellies, Marshall Martig and Maddox Martig; back row, Brooke Mellies, Marsha Martig and Logan Mellies.

What does it take to find the Water Carnival medallion? According to the experiences of Angie Mellies this past week, the answer is: a careful reading of the clues, about 20 hours and six young helpers.

“We’d been out all week,” she said. “They were along for fun. I think they found a lot more caterpillars than they did medallions.”

The team of Angie, Brooke Mellies and Logan Mellies, and Marshall, Marsha and Maddox Martig searched Hutchinson’s parks and trails, looking high and low for any sign of the hidden trinket. That journey eventually led her to a repeat visit to the area north of McLeod County Veterans Memorial Park, near the pedestrian bridge on Thursday night.

“I was really just there to meet the clue hider,” she said. “He usually comes out in the afternoon. We had been out all morning and had taken a break.”

She thought the medallion was somewhere in the area, but wasn’t there to hunt.

“I was killing time, hanging around and talking to other people. I figured I’d look at the trees for the third time,” Angie said. “Some of the kids had checked as well.”

This time, however, she took care to lift up every branch and check underneath as well. The extra effort paid off when she came face to face with the medallion at around 4:30 p.m.

“There were some swear words there,” she said. “I was surprised. And then I had to call for help because I needed a scissors to cut it off the tree. I didn’t want to break the tree branch.”

Angie, who previously won in 2012 and 2013, will share the $500 prize for finding the medallion with her group. There are already plenty of plans for how to spend the money, though not of Angie’s design.

“The kids are all working on ways to divide it up between them,” she said. “Other than that, I don’t have a set plan.”

Logan wasn’t certain what use would be best when asked Friday.

“I don’t know. Buy a Nintendo Switch,” he said, adding that he had fun and looks forward to the next hunt.

Marsha suggested ice cream — Culver’s in particular. Her favorite part of the hunt was walking on Hutchinson’s trails.

“Ice cream seems to be the common theme,” Angie said.