We look forward to welcoming everyone for the 52nd Festival of the Arts July 12-15. Children and Youth Day will be July 11. Save the date(s)!

Follow the Clues to the Fugitive

fugitiveA couple of weeks ago, I had a call from our sales rep from 3WZ radio, Cathy Brown, asking me if I would be the station’s fugitive in a contest the station was holding. I wasn’t to be a real fugitive, on the run from the law. Instead, she explained that the station would give out clues to my identity starting on a Monday, and, with any sort of luck, some enterprising Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple would suss out my identity by the end of that week.  She went on to explain that someone had to ask me in person if I were the fugitive—they couldn’t call, email, text, tweet to me. It had to be good old-fashioned human interaction. And then I had to give them a special card that proved that they were the contest winner.

I said sure, I’d do it. Cathy interviewed me so that the folks at the station could come up with their list of clues. Were they going to mention my job, my interesting family, or my church? Perhaps they’d say that I’ve never gotten over being picked last in gym? Maybe she’d throw out a plug for my personal blog, The Wandering Wahoo? Or, perhaps the clues were going to be like a personal ad and mention that I liked Frank Sinatra, the beach, 100% cotton oxford shirts, and think that EZ Pass is the best invention ever? I had no clue.

Before the start of my week, someone from the station dropped off the card I was to give to the contest winner. I made a special point of putting it in my desk drawer so that I would remember where I left it. Had my friends and family written the clues one would surely mention that I’m always losing my wallet, car keys, sunglasses etc. and I didn’t want to lose the special card. Can you imagine the winner finding me and then being disqualified since I’d lost the winning card? I could.

With this week’s election, work, an upcoming trip to California, among other things on my mind, I’d pretty much forgot about the contest until this morning. I was sitting in my office, pecking away at the keyboard of my computer when my co-worker Carol said that there was someone here to see me.

I walked out of the office and saw a woman I’d never met. She said she had a question for me. I thought it was going to be one of the standard questions I tend to get, something about the Children & Youth Sidewalk Sale, or perhaps about how does a band submit an audition packet.

Instead, she said, “Are you the fugitive?

I said that I was indeed the fugitive, and her face lit up like a lit up like a marquee on the Las Vegas strip. I grabbed the card from my desk drawer before I lost it. I had to ask what she’d won…$500 she replied. Holy smokes!

fran-mottorn-and-rick-bryantMy new friend was Fran Mottorn of Wingate, which is about 15 miles from State College. She’s a Pittsburgh native, but has lived in the area for 45 years. Her husband Robert is retired from his job at Penn State. Fran and Robert have two grandchildren, Olivia and Jack, and I think it’s fair to say that they’re going to have a nicer Christmas than their grandparents might have planned yesterday.

Before she left, Fran said that she’d discerned the identity of an earlier fugitive in the contest but didn’t get there quickly enough and another listener beat her to the punch. Clearly Fran’s got a mind for police work.

Since I was in the dark, I asked Cathy what clues they used to describe me. She sent back the list:

Clue 1 – Former band Geek
Yes, I’m out and proud as a former enthusiastic not-very-talented clarinetist in the State High Band

Clue 2 – Former Creator of Policies
I spent nineteen years toiling away as a property and casualty insurance agent before joining the Festival staff

Clue 3 – Quite Cavalier
The Cavalier is the official mascot of my college alma mater, The University of Virginia.

Clue 4 – Enjoys woofers
It’s dogs not cats. Everyone knows that cats suck the breath out of babies.

Clue 5 – Works one week a year
Actually, I work six days a year. The Arts Festival takes five days and First Night State College is another day, so that makes six days. Perhaps they’re giving me credit for resting on the seventh day.

Clue 6 – Loves “Street Closed” Signs
It’s hard to have the Festival or First Night without closing some streets. Sometimes I think we only close streets used by easily annoyed, impatient people, who are just a gnat’s eyelash away from a road rage incident.

Clue 7 – Downtown Wanderer
I live in State College’s Holmes-Foster neighborhood and walk to work.

Clue 8 – Conductor of all things art
If you’ve heard the other seven clues, the last one should make it easy to find me…without even mentioning Frank Sinatra, the beach, 100% cotton oxford shirts, and my favorite invention, EZ Pass.

Great job Fran! If the Pennsylvania State Police has an opening for a detective, I’m recommending you!

About Rick Bryant

Rick Bryant has served as the Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts since 2005. Active in the State College community, he has served on many boards including the State College Board of Health, and the Board of Deacons of State College Presbyterian Church. He currently serves as the chair of the State College Design Review Board.

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