Participants gearing up for Scav Hunt after record-setting year

Leah Rand won’t be making any 3-D zoetropes this year, but she’s still planning on exhaustion. Scav Hunt leaves no one untouched.

“I’m always amazed that though I’m not building a juggling robot or marching around the Administration Building recreating the Battle of Jericho, I’m still completely wiped out at the end of each day.”

Rand, a fourth-year in the College, is one of 15 active judges for the famed UChicago tradition, which last year set a Guinness World Record, thanks to the 924 people who created the world’s largest scavenger hunt.

Students, alumni, friends and relatives are gearing up for the master list of 300-odd items, which will be revealed at midnight May 9. What follows in the next four days is the kind of crazed, exuberant chaos that leads people to stay up all night figuring out how to build Trojan horse-style animals or how to get their hands on a Stradivarius instrument.

“Someone found a dealer on the North Side who was willing to participate,” Rand said of the successful Stradivarius mission. The renown of this UChicago tradition , which dates back to 1987, lends itself to helping Scavvies tick seemingly impossible items from the list.

“You know the guy who narrated pretty much every movie trailer ever?” asked Christian Kammerer , AB’03, MS’06, PhD’09. “Any time you heard ‘In a world ruled by fear,’ that guy? That was the late, great Don LaFontaine, and in 2007 he agreed to narrate the Hunt for any team that successfully sought him out.”

Kammerer has dutifully participated in Scav—four years as a student, and as a judge ever since—a total of 13 times. Although he now works as a paleontologist in Berlin, he won’t be missing his tenured seat at the judges’ table this year. Luckily, he’ll be flying to Chicago anyway—direct from the Brazilian jungle—to conduct research at the Field Museum.

“We come up with all these ridiculous concepts that we hope the participants will enjoy making and performing, and then get to see our dreams come to life,” he said. “It’s like a reverse Santa Claus, who has somehow convinced the children of the world to make their own toys this year."

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