Harlingen geocache challenge launches ‘finders-keepers’

HARLINGEN — The city’s new geocache challenge launches its version of “finders-keepers” this week.

City workers have hidden 25 geocaching sites in the city over the past few weeks. The treasure hunt will cover parks, historic downtown and other landmarks.

The city of Harlingen’s GeoQuest program uses GPS coordinates to find hidden and camouflaged sites which contain a log that finders can sign to show they found the cache.

Geocaching is an outdoor activity involving using a mobile phone or other device that links to the satellite Global Positioning System, hence GPS. The “caches” are usually a waterproof container in which a log is provided for the hunter who found the cache to enter his or her name, and the date it was discovered. They close the box, and leave it for the next geocacher to find.

No money or treasure is awarded to the winners, alas, but they do have the satisfaction of outwitting the city workers who created the secret geocache sites.

“The GeoQuest Program is essentially a technology-driven, guided tour of the city of Harlingen,” City Manager Dan Serna said in a statement. “It also goes hand-in-hand with the objective of the mayor’s (Mayor Chris Boswell) newly-established Wellness Council. We’re getting the community interested in the city with exercise as a direct benefit.”

The GeoQuest challenge launches at 10:30 a.m. today at Pendleton Park Pavilion. Once that happens, participants can go to www.geocaching.com for their clues.

Parks and Recreation Director Javier Mendez said 25 locations were chosen for the hidden geocache treasures. He said in most cases, once GPS gives you a geocache location, it is only a general location.

“You will then need to rely on your senses to search for and find the geocache,” Mendez said.