40 awesome photos from Saturday’s transit game (including the awesomest of all)

Last Saturday, Portland’s transit system became a giant toy train set for 200 fun-seekers on 49 teams traveling the city in pursuit of points, $2500 in prizes and the answer to the mystery of the missing Faire LeSquare.

The day-long game, a celebration of Portland Afoot’s third birthday and its new direction, was the product of months of planning by dozens of volunteers and contributions from numerous local businesses, and it was a huge success.

Here’s what went down.

Around 9 a.m., game master Matt Cleinman took charge of the floor at Velo Cult (aka Game Central) as the dozen volunteers who staffed our headquarters showed up.


By 10 a.m., the teams were really filing in:

start time

We had plenty of provisions for the morning, thanks to sponsors from KIND Healthy Snacks:

kind bars

Grand Central Bakery:


Dave’s Killer Bread:


And New Cascadia Traditional Bakery (can you tell this was a Portland event?):


And the crowd kept coming.

checkin widangle

In all, our volunteers registered 49 teams of 3 to 5 players each. It was the fourth year in a row that our annual party’s attendance has doubled, which is pretty cool.


Every team got a pen from Zipcar Portland, bottles of Runa tea for each player, 10% off coupons to Velo Cult’s bike shop, and a TriMet map.

victor checkin

Then it was time to hit the streets. Teams completed their quests by tweeting photos from transit centers…


…on different transit lines…


…with our associates on the street (such as Waldo, in red-and-white tie)…


…(or encountering an FBI sting in the tunnel beneath the zoo)…


…(or smuggling a package to a drop point at Union Station)…


…or even helping William Overton and Special Agent S. Nesselrode Novick (played by Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick) pass a message to the authorities one letter at a time.


Among other things, teams could get points for high-fiving a TriMet employee…


…or photographing other teams in their wig disguises…


…or "completing the Streetcar loop" by paddling across the Willamette River in a DragonSports dragonboat…

DragonSports dragonboat

…or documenting themselves traveling Portland by any imaginable mode:

sleuthomatics walking

traveling by RV

traveling by janitorial cart fair inspectors

piggyback sleuthomatics

dumpster team cat

(Portland’s unipiper became an honorary member of Clamjam…)

unipiper clamjam

We didn’t accept all teams’ attempts to score points. Sometimes, they sent us photos reflecting their sadness…

sad tmnt missed haiku

…while some photos were just, well, awesome.

bingbang sideways

depth of field

block glass bingbang


planking bus action team

After gameplay ended at 4 p.m., the teams reconvened at Velo Cult to enjoy some Ninkasi beer…


…watch the actors of the day reassemble to reveal their roles in the disappearance of Faire LeSquare…

closing skit

…hear Josh and I talk about Portland Afoot’s new, still-on-the-drawing-board partnership with BikePortland.org

stage at end

…and hand out some prizes. Tiem With An I was the first to finish all five quests, and scored a gift basket from Boyd’s Coffee:


The Transit Trekkers, some of whom had ridden the train down from Seattle to play and who were smiling broadly in just about every photo, won the prize for "nicest team" … a month’s supply of KIND Healthy Snacks.

nicest team

Third place (a baked-goods spree from St. Honore Bakery, New Cascadia’s gluten-free bakery and Seven Virtues café) went to Tide and Paddled, with 303 points. Their prop must have been good for team spirit:


Second place (two all-day Zipcar excursions, a New Seasons shopping splurge and a coconut cream pie from Random Order) went to Gospel Tentacle Revival, who finished with 316 points (and were also the only team that had managed to preregister by hacking their way into the password list on our registration site):

second-place team

And first place went to the tiny but deadly team FloatOn, which managed an amazing 367 points by finding Waldo and hitting no less than seven transit centers (including Barbur, Tigard and—accompanied by another team—Washington Square). Their prize included 60 free minutes from car2go, annual memberships to the Bike Farm, a round of tacos and drinks at Por Que No?, the Grand Central loaf of the month for a year and a free month of SoupCycle for their MVP (the two FloatOn guys who made it to the party shot an on-stage game of rock-paper-scissors for that last prize).


Faire LeSquare herself (who, the players discovered, had actually fled to Calgary) made a surprise appearance to draw a random player to receive a full free year of TriMet:


Finally, Portland Afoot’s outreach team closed things off the way we always do: with a cheer.

balloons cheer

I saved two awards for last, because the photos were our favorites. First, there was the prize for "most artistic," which won a photo on canvas by Patt Knott of Portland’s Dekum Street firehouse and went to Lily and the Gents’ gender-shifted re-creation of a Portland classic:

expose yourself lily and the gents

Finally, I hope you’ll agree that despite the stiff competition, the selection of the single most awesome photo from Who Whacked Faire LeSquare? wasn’t a very hard choice:

mostawesome jiveturkeys

For capturing maybe the most elegant plunge ever into the Willamette, the Jive Turkeys won a set of Portland Bridges postcards from Bikeasaurus, eight free loaves of bread from Pearl Bakery and a round of drinks and tacos from Por Que No?.

Enjoy, guys. We sure did.

Photos from the field are from the teams responsible. Photos from the party are by Portland Afoot game planner Jeff Strange.

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