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Join a free outdoor scavenger hunt for families in Huntington Village

People walking, shopping and eating along Main Street

People walking, shopping and eating along Main Street in Huntington on March 27. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

You’ve heard of window shopping? For one weekend in May, your family can go on a window scavenger hunt.

Families will visit about 30 businesses in Huntington Village in search of items displayed in storefront windows during a free event dreamed up by Greenlawn author Gae Polisner, who wrote the middle-grade book "Seven Clues to Home."

Polisner teamed up with fellow Greenlawn resident Theresa Trinder, author of the children’s picture book "There Is a Rainbow," and the Huntington Public Library to create "The Hunt for a Good Book," which will be available from May 22 to May 24 and is open to anyone on Long Island.

It is an opportunity for families to do something outdoors and socially distanced, while at the same time, bringing attention to downtown merchants and encouraging children to read, Polisner says. They chose the dates because they overlap with National Scavenger Hunt Day on May 24.

"I love scavenger hunts, that’s why I wrote a book that centers around one," says Polisner, whose book came out in June of 2020 for ages 8 to 12. The novel, co-authored with Connecticut author Nora Raleigh Baskin, features tween best friends Lukas and Joy, who live in a fictional Long Island town and have been creating scavenger hunts for each other every year because their birthdays are two days apart.

ITEMS RELATE TO STORIES

Here’s how "The Hunt for a Good Book" will work: Participants register on the Huntington Library website with any library card from Suffolk County; Nassau County residents or Suffolk residents without a library card can call the library to register, says Huntington Library’s youth and parents services librarian Andrea Pavlik.

Then, participants either come into the library to pick up a hunt booklet and a button that says "I’m on a hunt for a good book" or simply download the booklet online during May 22 to 24. They’ll search for items related to Polisner’s and Trinder’s books that have been placed in storefront windows — such as unpainted lighthouses, rainbows and peacock feathers — and write down what stores they saw them in. There’s no need to enter the store, although participants can if they’d like, Polisner says.

Each store will also have a copy of a classic or new children’s book in the window, such "Harriet the Spy" or "A Wrinkle in Time" or "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," Polisner says. "I hope it will spark conversation with parents, ‘That was one of my favorite books as a child’ or ‘We should read that,’" she says. Participants will also write down what book they saw in each store window.

Entrants can then hand in their tabulations to the library and have the chance to win a goodie bag with some of the window items.

Aubrey Aydagul, 43, a stay-at-home mother from Huntington, plans to take her children, Arya, 6, and Mila, 4, on the scavenger hunt. "We're super excited to do that on our scooter ride," says Aydagul, who often brings her daughters into town for rides.

‘A LOT OF FUN’

Bon Bons Chocolatier is one of the participating merchants. "We’re all avid readers here at Bon Bons," says co-owner Mary Alice Meinersman. She says she’ll be happy to see more potential customers learn about village offerings: "Everybody right now needs all the support we can get."

Other participating merchants include Little Switzerland Toys, Kilwin’s and Ever Love Jewelry. "I think it could be a lot of fun," says Lily Bergh, owner of Little Switzerland Toys on Main Street.

Trinder, whose book is geared toward ages 3 to 7, says she’s thrilled to be riding on Polisner’s coat tails for this event. While "There Is a Rainbow" isn’t about a scavenger hunt per se, it’s about children during the pandemic hunting for rainbows that families began putting in their windows to inspire hope, she says.

"I wrote it when things were really feeling bleak here in New York," she says. Her book came out in January. Both Polisner and Trinder haven’t been able to do in-person book launches or signings because of the pandemic, they say.

The authors may try to arrange pop-up readings in the village during the hunt days. Says Trinder: "It’s really fun and satisfying to do something in real life like this."

Can’t make “The Hunt for a Good Book”?

“Let’s Roam” is an app that offers families the chance to undertake self-guided scavenger hunts worldwide as a team, with an interactive role for each of up to six participants.

On Long Island, the company currently only offers a scavenger hunt in Huntington, but hunts through Patchogue and in Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown are under development, says Charlie Harding, CEO of Denver-based Let’s Roam. The Huntington version takes participants to eight local landmarks including the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, the Heckscher Museum of Art and The Paramount. The cost is $12.99 per person.

Prefer to celebrate National Scavenger Hunt Day at home?

Download the free "Game Piece Scavenger Hunt" created with clues such as this one: "Pepperoni and mushrooms have nothing to do with this game. Train them to stand up, they might fall too soon, such a shame." (Answer: Domino) If you don't have the referenced game, print pictures of them.

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