Every year on October 20th the first clue for the great Al-Bob search is posted. Clue number one beckons CSS students out of their dorm rooms and into the night. The hunt for Al-Bob is on.
Al-bob is missing,
Your task is at hand,
In order to find him,
Look on CSS Land!
Al-Bob was the amalgamation of two years of Halloween decorations from the men of 2nd West. Each year during the ResLife hall decoration contest the wing covered the walls and doors with tinfoil. The first year the foil was removed and made into a large ball. The second year, a base was created for the ball to rest on. The men of 2nd West revered their creation, but summer came and it was put into storage. It was to be forgotten for many years.
But Al- Bob was destined to rise again and rise he did to enthrall and confuse the students while they hunted him down!
1999- Al-Bob Rises
2000- Al-Bob to the Limit
2001- Al-Bob IMPOSTER!!!
2002- The End of an Al-Bob Era
2003- Al-Bob: Mach 2
2004- The Al-Bob Group Search
2005- Al-Bob meets the Staff
2007- Al-Bob Abbreviated
2008- Al-Bob Underground
2009- Al-Bob Abbreviated II
After 8 clues (of a possible 12) the clever freshman team of Adam Lubbers and Joe Hoffer emerged from the back woods beyond the soccer field with Al-Bob. They collected the $50 prize and claimed a memorable spot in CSS history.
The first Al-Bob was a success. The question of there being another hunt next year was an easy one to answer: yes.
The sequel hunt was heavily touted, but Andy and Luke came prepared with a new arsenal of clues and a hiding spot that spun searchers round and round. The clues began in similar fashion. People hypothesized and casually kept their eyes open. As the clues reached 8,9,10... people were narrowing down the location, but all hands were still empty. On the night before the final clue, hoards of student flooded the woods near the Westwood assisted living home. By flashlight and instinct alone, many threw in one last attempt at locating Al-Bob before the final clue. Even with the large number of students searching, the morning came with no finder. On Halloween morn the final clue was posted. A mad dash from the Port to the woods saw Ed Szymcsak and Chris Fink as the victors. They collected the now $100 prize. To date, it is the only Al-Bob hunt to last all 12 clues.
A tidy little creek shore nook near Niagra Street and a garbage bag were enough to keep Al-Bob hidden for 8 clues until the resilient Freshman David Shueller snagged Al-Bob and become the first solo finder. Though his tenacity is notable, his story is overshadowed by the deceit that occurred just one day prior. Under the cover of darkness Matt Hoeschen, Gavin Winter, and Erik Fahlstrom (brother to then Al-Bob co-coordinator Andy) robbed the Greenview Dinning Room of several boxes of tin foil and created their own Al-Bob. The imposter Al-Bob was strategically placed behind the old facilities garage (no longer there) by the soccer field. During a chemistry class, Matt douped two of his female friends into thinking that he knew where Al-Bob was located. The two girls raced to the location after class and retrieved the fake Al-Bob. They brought it to Luke who easily noted that it was not the real Al-Bob. The two girls were upset, but kept a good humor about them. Fake Al-Bob was born and another element of the epic Al-Bob hunt began.
Andy and Luke were in their senior year and knew they had to go out with a bang. The 2002 Al-Bob hunt would ultimately run 11 clues and terminate at the hands and whit of Junior, Troy Abfalter. Al-Bob had been well hidden in the belly of Tower hall, in the dirt walled corridors beneath the Alumni hallway. Thought to be only accessible through a window well near the Magnificant Garden, Troy trumped everyone by crawling through a small facilities access near the ceiling of the tunnel across from the elevator. Tech Crew employee Jesse Swenson followed soon after. Dan Sepian, Student Activities Coordinator, scolded both of them. Security and facilities were both notified. Troy wandered around the dirt tunnels and eventually found his way out the window well. The facilities crew was quick to seal all entrances after the memorable hunt. Troy captured the $150 prize and the torch was handed off to Chris Dean and Matt Erjavec (both Freshmen) who would take over for Andy and Luke.
It took 5 years, but Amy Wicker and Sheila Johnson broke through the gender barrier in 2003 to become the first female finders of Al-Bob. It was no easy task. The weather was often dreary and raining. This made the trek alone to get to the hidden location- deep in the south woods- difficult in itself. Al-Bob's hiding place proved to be a small, cavernous gap in a usually dry creek bed. Because of the recent rain, the inlet was gorged with mud and water, thus wedging Al-Bob deep into his hole. Amy and Sheila enlisted a few muscle bound men to help with the retrieval, but ultimately walked away as the sole finders.
The old adage "there's strength in numbers" never rang so true. Jade Oberg, Leila Im, Noelle Ekwochi, Laura Nelson, and Jenna Grembowski worked together to find our foil friend, who was once again hiding deep in the woods. This year it was the back woods near campus park to where Al-Bob took his leave. A camping bag cleverly stashed in the crux of a tall tree may have thrown some off the trail, but not these five. With keen eyes and committed spirit, the five finders managed to disrupt Al-Bob's perch and claim the prize. A few years later this location would become the footprint of the Kerst apartment building.
Michelle Oberg, Jena Swanson, and Amy Nelson will go down as the official finders of Al-Bob in 2005, but it wouldn't be fair to neglect the only unofficial finder. On clue #1, Head of CSS Safety and Security, Mike Turner, was heading up to the fabled 6th floor of Tower Hall, via one of the 5th floor class rooms, to allow a student to take photographs from one of the tower tops. On his way up an ominous interior ladder, Mike spotted Al-Bob in a musty corner. Mike could very well have claimed the glory and the prize money for himself, but as he is a man who understands the value of a great Al-Bob hunt, he notified Chris Dean and Matt Erjavec (the Al-Bob hiders) and informed them that the door behind which Al-Bob was hidden is usually locked. Seeing as though Al-Bob should be in a location accessible to all, a new location was found. Michelle, Jena, and Amy later found him in the electrical coffin and Mike became the unsung Al-Bob hero.
People often wonder how hard it can be to find a giant tin foil ball. The thing is huge, right? Sure, but when you think about the acres of forest in which he may be hidden, the spectrum becomes similar to the old needle in a haystack routine. On the other hand, when Al-Bob is hidden indoors, the hiders are playing with fire. On any given day, any given person may stumble upon Al-Bob in some haphazard venture just off the usual path to class. All the same, in 2006, it was three bright eyed folks with Al-Bob on their minds who ended up using their gumption and intuition to find Al-Bob. Maggie, Dan and Dave (the Seglem twins) ventured, with intent, into the narrow facilities hallway behind the elevators and walked out as champions of the 2006 Al-Bob hunt.
The shortest search in Al-Bob history lasted a mere 7 clues. Abby Arrowsmith, Sarah Daignault, Katie Pyfferoen, and Dani Hogan were able to decipher some clever clues related to the bell tower and found their way past the monastery and into the bog-esque pit where Al-Bob hid. Short and sweet.
Hoards of hunters searched high and low... but not low enough. In a year that proved to be a time of rejuvination for the event- when bumper stickers ran rampant and the buzz reached all corners of campus- it was Andy Oberstar and Reed Fulghum who were willing to push the envelope and crawl into the vast underbelly of rotten leaves and weather weary tin foil. Though many were able to pin point the final direction of the clues, they failed to see in the third dimension. Andy and Reed, a couple of computer club veterans, narrowed down all the possibilities and deduced their way to $100.
The best laid plans are laid to waste. Such was the case in 2009 when Dylan Kesti and Walt Ostrander had big plans for hiding Al-Bob. However, on the day before the hunt was to begin, Dylan and Walt found that their exceptional hiding place had been made unavailable due to a recent change in facilities protocol. In a mad dash to find a back-up, the hiders tucked Al-Bob into a storage closet in the wing just off the tunnel. Four clues into the hunt, James Arroyo-Roppo, with assistance from Danica Lowry, emerged with Al-Bob in tow.
A severe storm on 26th October saturated the northland with rain and snow. Al-Bob, who was hidden in a mud-hole on the west end of the valley of silence, received a cold thrashing and a thorough saturation. Three days later Chris LeBlanc became the only second solo finder in Al-Bob history and the first since 2001. However, if there was ever a year when a partner would come in handy, this was it. The mud hole had grown to a mud pond and Al-Bob's pore riddled tin skin had filled with pounds and pounds of water. With great effort from Chris, and help from Al-Biob hiders Walt Ostrander and Luke Moravec, Al-Bob (who now weighed in at more than 100 pounds) was rolled uphill back to campus.
A crafty set of clues was devised that incorporated a fake student group and a secret panel. However, it was the impulse of the duo of James Arroyo-Roppo and Dan Branovan that proved the difference. Although their deconstruction of the clues was unconventional (and technically incorrect), fate and persistence was on their side. Acting on more than a hunch, James and Dan filtered through the Science Builing and cornered the chrome colored castaway behind a loose fitting panel that few would ever notice. A legacy also begins with Arroyo-Roppo as he became the first, and thus far only, repeat Al-Bob champion.
The College of St. Scholastica
1200 Kenwood Avenue
Duluth, MN 55811