Philly celebrates National Tourism Week with scavenger hunt

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The City of Brotherly Love is planning to celebrate national tourism week, slated this year for May 12 to 20, by launching a day-long, high-tech scavenger hunt throughout Philadelphia that dovetails with the King Tut exhibit currently on display at the Franklin Institute.

The hunt, called the "King Tut Geocaching Treasure Tour," uses a global positioning system device to take participants around the city on a King Tut-themed scavenger hunt, also referred to as "geocaching" ["geo" as in earth and "cache" as in a hiding place] to those in the know.

And on May 12, Philadelphia is expecting hundreds of hardcore geocachers to take part in the day-long, GPS-guided race to find a treasure hidden in the city.

Twelve sites around the city, which players will use their GPS devices to find, will hold clues to finding the treasure.

At each site, players will find a hidden box (cache) containing a stamper for stamping their geocaching passport. There will also be a logbook where geocachers sign in when they find a cache.

The first 50 competitors to finish will win prizes, according to the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, which developed the Treasure Tour.

The grand-prize winner receives an overnight stay at the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia, a private guided tour of the exhibition and a $1,000 pendant from a merchant on Jewelers' Row in Philadelphia.

It is estimated that some 1.5 million people in the U.S. play geocaching games. There is even a Web site [www.geocaching.com] and a book ["The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geocaching"] dedicated to the sport.

While the game is played in various venues, Cara Schneider spokesperson for GPTMC, said "It's still pretty novel for a city to host geocaching."

To sign up for the GPS-guided competition, geocachers should log onto www.gophila.com/geocaching or www.geocaching.com (search for GC10PZ9).

Meanwhile, non-geocachers can also get in on the treasure hunt after May 12 by using a brochure and other downloadable information at www.gophila.com/geocaching. Treasure Tour information also is available at The Franklin Institute, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Independence Visitor Center.

Visitors follow the clues as they search for the treasure.

At the final stop of the hunt, players present their fully stamped brochure to receive a small prize.

The King Tut Geocaching Treasure Tour continues through Sept. 30, the last day of the "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" exhibition at the Franklin Institute.

To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].

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