Jason Stimeling and Jesus Smith of East Peoria have made history by locating the first Folepi ornament.
The contest began with the first clue being released Nov. 21. It only took one clue for Stimeling and Smith to locate the Festival of Lights ornament hidden in a tree at Riverfront Park.
Stimeling, 21, said it is the first time he has ever done a hunt like this.
“It was the first time I’ve ever heard about it,” he said. “I didn’t have anything to do for the rest of the night so we went out looking for it a little bit,” Stimeling said.
After reading the poem a couple of times online and knowing from the rules that the ornament would be hidden in a safe area, he said he didn’t think it would be at a construction site. The fourth line refers to a clock tower and a round about, which is at the new downtown.
“It said clues will be said to cast doubt in your mind,” Stimeling said. It’s (the clock tower and roundabout) all a construction zone and it’s supposed to be hidden in a safe area so I figured there’s no way it can be hidden around there. I ignored the whole roundabout.”
Stimeling said he thought the seventh line referred to the new Bass Pro where “new faces appear.”
He and Smith began looking around Walmart. It was already dark when they began searching, so they used flashlights. They looked on the ground and in the trees.
“I really wasn’t expecting to find it, I know that,” Stimeling said.
“I think we were out for about an hour, and actual looking time, it was no more than 30 minutes,” he added. “I had a flashlight. I would shine it at the base of the tree and go up it. I think it was in about the sixth tree I looked in. I saw my flashlight kind of reflect off it. It was in a green tin can. I did have a friend with me and he saw it at the same time.”
Stimeling said he and Smith will split their $1,300 in gift cards, and in the true spirit of Christmas, give them to family and friends.
“We’re going to give them away as Christmas gifts. ... Before we even started looking, we said if we do find it, we’ll split it,” Stimeling said.
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For his occupation, Stimeling does landscaping. He is off work for the winter and he said money is limited for Christmas. He said the $1,300 in gift cards will come in handy this season.
“That’s going to help out a lot,” he said.
He did say that he and Smith will likely celebrate their win and use one of the gift cards for a free pizza.
“Other than that, we’d just rather give to someone else,” he said.
The two men were honored at the East Peoria City Council meeting Tuesday night.