As the sun beat down over El Paso, adrenaline pulsed through Nickie Monroe and her daughter Bailey. The mother-daughter duo were on a hunt of sorts.
“It was super exciting, way more exciting than I thought it would have been,” Nickie said.
They had been following Annie’s Adventures social media accounts on the prowl for the next #ChucoScavengerHunt item. They had been patiently waiting for an item to be hidden closer to their East Side home.
“It was kind of a weird adrenaline rush. We were excited, we’re going, we’re racing, and then we got there first and we were just excited and screaming, and happy, and excited,” Monroe said.
Annie Perez, creator of the social media accounts Annie’s Adventures, has been hosting scavenger hunts across El Paso over the last two weeks. The goal is simple: promote local businesses and artists during COVID-19.
“Since March, I’ve been kind of hounding people to ‘please go local, please go local,’ because we need to support our local businesses, our local economy and our local community,” Perez said.
“How we pandemic” is a new series from El Paso Matters about unique ways El Pasoans are dealing with life during COVID-19. If you have a story suggestion, email it to email@example.com.
She was inspired by local artists who had been hosting their own art scavenger hunts.
“I’m wanting to shine a light on local businesses and at the same time I’m wanting to provide a way for the El Paso community to get up, get out and go local, which is family friendly and COVID safe,” Perez said.
The items Perez hides have all been donated by local businesses and artists.
“I didn’t realize I’d have such a huge response from local businesses,” Perez said. “I thought this would be maybe a day or two day scavenger hunt. This is two weeks now. I’m not going to stop until I’ve given out all the local prizes. It’s just insane,” Perez said.
Nearly every day, Perez will carefully tease her combined 17,000 social media followers with a photo of the latest local item and where she has hidden it across town.
“These items are being picked up within 25 to 30 minutes,” Perez said.
With every post, Perez tags the local business or artist who donated the item in hopes of lifting their name.
“We had never heard of the artist before so that was cool. When we got done we looked him up and looked at his social media,” Monroe said.
Monroe and her daughter found the item donated by artist Jaime Rivera, known as Zyme One.
“It’s actually pretty cool because it helps people, and families especially, get out and do something. Especially with everything going on and doing it safely,” Rivera said.
He said Annie’s large platform has helped bring him new followers on social media.
For Perez, the adventure also lifts up local parks and memorials. She is deliberate in selecting the locations where she will hide the items.
“I go back and put the location of each item so that they can go back and check out those places,” Perez said. “I want people to learn at the same time and to check out these things.”
She’s hidden items at the Old Glory Memorial, Chamizal National Memorial, Smeltertown Cemetery, Wyler Aerial Tramway and El Paso Museum of Archaeology.
Monroe and her daughter found their item at the Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park in Northeast El Paso. She said they are keeping their eye on the scavenger hunt to see if they can win another prize and keep learning more about their growing hometown.
“Annie spreads a lot of info on local things, but there’s always new local things popping up and different artists,” Monroe said. “I think it’s really great. I love that it’s local because the community is supporting each other.”
Cover photo: Annie’s Adventures posted this photo to tease followers looking for the latest hidden item as part of the Chuco Scavenger Hunt. This art piece was donated by local artist Zyme One to be used in the scavenger hunt. (Photo courtesy of Annie Perez of Annie’s Adventures)