Invisible paint brings treasure hunters to St. Helens

St. Helens treasure hunt continues through July 4th weekend

Special paint on sidewalks in St. Helens only shows up when it rains, part of an ongoing treasure hunt in their downtown area, May 2, 2017 (KOIN)
Special paint on sidewalks in St. Helens only shows up when it rains, part of an ongoing treasure hunt in their downtown area, May 2, 2017 (KOIN)

ST. HELENS, Ore. (KOIN) — There’s a treasure hunt currently underway in St. Helens, but you can only search the clues when it rains.

In a bid to bring people to the St. Helens main street, leaders came up with a treasure hunt where the clues — painted on the sidewalk — only show up when it rains.

Which is often.

One of the challenges with the “Inspiration in the Rain” treasure hunt was getting the sidewalks painted because this special paint — Rain Works — needs 2 days to dry, said Amanda Normine, the vice chair of the St. Helens Economic Development Corporation. The paint is “super hydrophobic” and essentially repels water.

“As it came time to install we’re looking and it’s like, OK, it was a moving target to go out and hope and pray that it wasn’t going to rain on us,” she told KOIN 6 News. “Still we didn’t get the full dry time we wanted, but it worked.”

The in-the-rain treasure hunt was based on a similar project in Seattle, she said.

Special paint on sidewalks in St. Helens only shows up when it rains, part of an ongoing treasure hunt in their downtown area, May 2, 2017 (KOIN)
Special paint on sidewalks in St. Helens only shows up when it rains, part of an ongoing treasure hunt in their downtown area, May 2, 2017 (KOIN)

“It is so wet, especially this year, so bring people out on these days when our merchants don’t have anybody at the door,” she said. “This is a way to say, ‘Hey, get your umbrellas, put on your raincoat and take your family out and enjoy the rain rather than hide from it.”

Nine images painted on the sidewalk correspond to a treasure map. Players get the map at the St. Helens IGA and find the first clue. Then they have to find the rest of them in the right order.

For instance, there is one clue where “Robert Kennedy had his picture taken in front of when he was campaigning (in 1968) and a lot of people don’t know we have businesses that old,” Normine said.

“So while you can go to these businesses anytime and get them signed, it’s really hard to find them except in the rain because the markers only come out then.”

A treasure map for hunters in the St. Helens business district, May 2, 2017 (Courtesy)
A treasure map for hunters in the St. Helens business district, May 2, 2017 (Courtesy)

Annie Davis, a co-owner of Richardson’s Furniture and Mattress Gallery, said she thinks it’s a great way to get the community out and about while bringing in new customers.

“Yesterday I think we had a group of 5 or 6 people and they weren’t people — you know we’ve been in business for almost 60 years — and they weren’t people that I have necessarily seen before,” Davis told KOIN 6 News. “So I think it’s great to just get new people.”

Normine said the entire treasure hunt can be done in a day either on foot or by car. The businesses involved in the treasure hunt are no more than a mile apart. Players can get a prize from a giant treasure chest and adults get entered into a drawing for gift certificates.

St. Helens plans to do the treasure hunt until the 4th of July weekend. “After that,” Normine said, “we’ll be scrubbing the sidewalks and removing it.”