by Joe Schulz
As the Green Lake community isolated at home and small businesses felt the strain of the coronavirus pandemic last month, Angela Zodrow concocted a plan that would give local residents something to do while supporting local businesses.
Zodrow, an organizer for the “Green Lake WI Rocks” Facebook group, was no stranger to planning scavenger hunts as the group regularly hides and hunts painted rocks throughout public spaces in the area.
Because the pandemic made people wary of touching the same surfaces as others, she developed the Share the Love Green Lake Scavenger Hunt, which wouldn’t require participants to touch anything.
“I just thought, ‘This is something that the community kind of needs right now,’” Zodrow said.
So she placed flyers in the windows of local businesses and homes all over Green Lake. Each of the flyers had a blue and green painted rock with a big pink heart, but only 15 posters had letters on them.
When arranged correctly, the letters spelled “Flatten the Curve.” Anyone who collected all the letters and correctly guessed the message was entered into a drawing for prizes from a variety of local businesses across Green Lake.
The deadline to enter to win was May 1, but Zodrow is contemplating holding another scavenger hunt because she didn’t expect the enormous community support for the first one.
She has enough posters to do another scavenger hunt, but wants to receive community feedback before making a concrete decision.
“A couple people would be willing to help me do it again,” Zodrow said. “So after everybody has claimed their prizes, I’m gonna put a poll out on Facebook.”
When she approached businesses to purchase prizes for the initial scavenger hunt, many offered her a discount or wouldn’t let her pay for prizes at all.
THE GREEN LAKE WI Rocks Facebook group collected gift certificates from local businesses to give as prizes. submitted photo
“Even when the times are tough, they’re still willing to help us come together and support our community,” Zodrow said. “They can’t necessarily afford to even be giving things, but they’re just happy to help uplift people.”
Zodrow added the fact that during these tough times local businesses were willing to give what they could to bring the community together is a testament to the community.
She noted what makes the businesses in the Green Lake area special is they’re not operating in a corporate office somewhere miles away; they’re community members and neighbors.
“Their livelihood is on the line, but they are still willing to just hand out something for the community to say, ‘Look, we’re all in this together;’ that’s amazing,” Zodrow said. “It’s uplifting to see that even in times of struggle like this, they are still the same kind-hearted community members they’ve always been.”
Zodrow hopes the scavenger hunt can help return the favor, because she tried to keep the prizes relatively small to entice winners to spend money at local establishments.
For example, one prize was a free scoop of ice cream at North Bay Sport & Liquor. Zodrow noted the hope would be that everyone who won a free scoop would claim it along with ice cream for the rest of the family.
“You hope to initiate a little bit of economic response. You give a little and the community gives a little bit back,” she said. “Anything you can do to help [local businesses] feels right right now.”
For Zodrow, seeing the community come together — while remaining apart physically — was uplifting in a time of great uncertainty.
“The ability to still be able to do the same activity, even though you’re not necessarily doing it together, is really what this was all about from the beginning,” she said. “It was like [seeing] a unified community.”