The City of Valparaiso has hatched a Birds of Paradise Scavenger Hunt in downtown Valpo for all ages to enjoy.
Families participating in the free year-round activity can check in at the front desk of the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Public Library System and receive a Birds of Paradise coloring book, which contains clues and a map to locate various birds hidden throughout downtown Valpo. From there, they’re off to explore the city, looking to find 10 birds in total.
The City of Valparaiso created the hunt to encourage community members and visitors to explore downtown Valpo while appreciating native birds, public art and local artists, according to Community Engagement Director Maggie Clifton who coordinated the activity.
The birds in this scavenger hunt were each created by local artist Chad Copeland, a Valpo resident and metal fabricator and sculptor. Inspired by recycling industrial scrap, this was Copeland’s first solo commission project, where he used large pieces of metal to bring the feathered friends to life. “It was rewarding to create lively art from unlively pieces of steel,” he said.
Local artist Melissa Washburn then designed the coloring book for the event. A longtime bird enthusiast, Washburn was excited to partake in the hunt to showcase her passion for birds with the Valpo community, an interest that started in childhood, watching cardinals at the feeder with her grandmother. Her “life list” of birds spotted includes 195 species.
Kami Tupiak along with her husband, Steve Tupiak, and son, Connor Tupiak, found out about the event through online and thought it would be fun to partake in the hunt. She described it as the perfect family activity for a Saturday afternoon. “It was something I came across researching about Valpo. It’s something the whole family can do together to learn more about the city. It’s pretty simple to understand and you get to walk around and enjoy the nice day,” she said.
“Connor had a blast! I think he was having more fun running around. He loves scavenger hunts and finding things. He’s a completionist, so being able to finish it was a big thing for him,” Kami Tupiak said.
Finding and learning about the different types of birds was Connor Tupiak’s favorite part of the day. He especially liked seeing his school mascot in the hunt, and that made it all the more exciting for him.
“I liked finding the blue jay because that’s the town I live in,” Connor Tupiak said.
In addition to creating fun family memories, the scavenger hunt is also a creative way to get people from all over to visit local shops and restaurants. Tupiak and her family visit Valpo quite often, and they still found a new hidden treasure: Rocket Fizz, a soda pop and candy shop which they otherwise would not have discovered were it not for the hunt.
“I think it’s a really good idea for families to get out especially in the nice weather to enjoy seeing more of the town. Since you’re walking through the entire downtown, you’re going to pass a bunch of different shops that you might not see while you’re driving. We found a candy shop today and stopped in to check it out. We came out with a bag of candy and finished our scavenger hunt,” Kami Tupiak said.
Be sure to flock to the Valparaiso Public Library to experience the hunt for yourself today. It’s available year-round, and Connor Tupiak noted that those who complete the hunt are sure to be in for a treat.
“When you find all the birds, you get a fun prize!” he said.