A Day In The City: Hartford Scavenger Hunt Followed By Autumn Celebration Night Fall

People who love Hartford can spend all day Saturday running around the city, and then spend the evening sitting in a park watching other people run around.

A scavenger hunt designed to show off all of Hartford’s neighborhoods hands out the first clues at noon on Oct. 6 at the Bushnell Park carousel. Following the hunt and its after-party, scavengers — and anyone so inclined — can head to Pope Park for the seventh annual Night Fall, the city’s yearly salute to autumn.

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“We were talking about the image of Hartford,” says Arunan Arulampalam, co-creator of the hunt, which is in its second year. “There are a lot of great things about the city, but the vibrancy goes undiscovered. A lot of people only see the few core blocks of downtown. We wanted to broaden the image. There is a value to place-making activities and pride in the city.”

Scavenger-hunt teams of two to seven people, any age, should meet at the carousel from 11 a.m. to noon to register. People who show up alone will be placed in a team, unless they don’t want to be. "We aren't too strict,” Arulampalam said. He said last year, the cap was 160 people, and the cap was met. This year, the cap is 300.

Registration is free, but each person should bring $20 to $25 to carry out the activities needed to follow the scavenger trail, Arulampalam says.

Without giving too much away, he says, “the clues lead you to historical or cultural sites in the city and then from there they direct you to nearby food and drink places. You have to order something small. When they give you your food or drink, they give you the next clue.”

There will be several routes to chose from, some more difficult than others. Most teams will want to use cars, but there also will be a bike-friendly route. One route will be vegetarian-friendly.

“We’re making it more about the destinations than just the clues. We incorporate the culture and history of the city and showcase food and drink establishments around the city that sometimes don’t get as much love and are not as well-known,” he says.

The hunt should take about three hours, she says, and the last clues lead everyone to a party from 3 to 5 p.m. At 6 p.m., Arulampalam and his friends hope everyone will join him and the other creators of the hunt — Jacqueline Kozin, Justin Zartman, James Woulfe and Shannon Mumley — as they head over to Night Fall in Pope Park. facebook.com.

Night Fall

Environmentalism is the theme for this year’s Night Fall. Actors in the costumes of giant woodland creatures will skitter and prance around Pope Park, acting out a play about pollution and garbage, as well as celebrating the change of the seasons.

Anne Cubberly, who designs the costumes and Night Fall’s signature giant Solstice Puppet, says conservationism is a natural theme for the production.

“At the end of every show, after the sun has set, the Solstice puppet processes with dozens of community members carrying lanterns made by hand from repurposed plastic containers,” Cubberly says. “It’s beautiful, and it’s a reminder that year after year we come together to create something beautiful while still being mindful of our impact.”

Litter pickup also is part of Night Fall’s history. At noon on the day of the performance, volunteers go to the park to pick up garbage, to make the park as attractive to visitors as possible. The grounds open at 2 p.m. for picnics, the show begins at 6 p.m After the show, the volunteers pick up the litter left behind by spectators.

There will be food and product vendors, craft activities and pop-up performances. Attendees should bring blankets and lawn chairs. Admission is free. nightfallhartford.org.

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