One Wild Ride Through Gulfport for Charity

In the last photo taken in the three-hour scavenger hunt, Kayaking Crackers team members were wilted from the heat. Pictured from left to right are Debbie Wolfe, Vice Mayor Paul Ray, Melanie King with open air, on-shift bartender Margie Murphy. Item number 24 on the scavenger hunt list with the photo taken by a total stranger just for fun – check!

A local elected official, a realtor and a journalist start out with a 46-item list in a timed scavenger hunt using a borrowed street-legal golf cart.

So, what could happen with three type-A personalities in a confined space for several hours with a deadline?

No, this is not the beginning of a bar joke – but it started in one!

Gulfport Vice Mayor Paul Ray, Gabber journalist Debbie Wolfe and Forever Florida Real Estate realtor Melanie King formed the Kayaking Crackers and festooned themselves and their transportation with nautical gear like paddles; life preservers; a snorkel mask and J-tube; a dive flag; a survival whistle; two paddle boards; and, one red anchor dangling from the back. Yeah, the back.

The Kayakers were one team in a field of 14 that were all part of an event that began in O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille, 5405 Shore Boulevard S., at noon on Saturday, May 5. Everyone was competing for bragging rights, donated prizes and fun.

It was the second year of the Golf-Port Golf Cart & Scavenger Hunt as a benefit for the local non-profit Michael J. Yakes (MY) Foundation, said Suzie King, owner of SIK Promotions, the promoter who was helping out the charity.

Kayaking Crackers team members, pictured left to right, are Debbie Wolfe, Vice Mayor Paul Ray and Melanie King. Photo by Suzie King.

Inside Looking Out

And yes, we did have a kayak – the size of a fridge magnet. “All it needs is water to, uh, grow to life size!” said Paul.

They served us lunch first. Then, King handed out the printed lists. We had until 4 p.m. to finish and it was almost 1 p.m.

Easy, right? Plenty of time since we’re all pros at knowing Gulfport. Well, remember the type-A variable?
“Who’s going to do what?” asked Paul from behind the driver’s wheel. He registered the team so he was also the de facto captain. And, he had brought paper and pens to be extra organized. After all, his profession involves working with computers, related code and applications. It looked official.

“Well, I can keep track of the scavenger list and group geographic items together to maximize our time like when we played that Park and Shop board game as kids,” I said. My former technology training editor organizational background with a daily newspaper was also kicking in. “Like putting a ‘C’ for Casino next to the task items located near there.” Casino Kitty, toes in sand, picnic table, historical marker – check, check, check and check. Logical. Or, so we thought.

“I’ll label and text in the pictures we take as we go,” said Melanie. That sounded efficient. Her savvy at multitasking as a realtor was coming in handy. At first.

Cross talk and giggling between the three of us began immediately as we lurched up a side street, then down an alley and finally down Beach Boulevard toward the Casino as we were trying to decide where to start taking photos to prove we were making progress and not just draining the battery on the cart.

But, where to start?

The Casino? Veteran’s Park? The Gulfport Beach Bazaar? Caddy’s? Salty’s? The Pier? Each one of us had an opinion, but Paul had the wheel and sometimes even the horn.

Since people in town know all three of us, along the way we were also waving, talking, fielding message texts and phone calls.

Melanie even called artist Keith Stillwagon to ask him where one of his murals was located. It had to be on a residential property south of 22nd Avenue S. For safety reasons, we were all supposed to stay on the bay side of that big main road.

My cell signal was poor. We realized Paul’s was stuck on zoom, which is why we couldn’t all fit into selfie. Melanie’s phone was set to wide angle, but we still couldn’t easily manage to get all three of us into one image at each location.

But that didn’t stop us. You know, type As. When we realized we needed a special tool, we were on it – a selfie stick!

Off to Walgreen’s we went even though it was located out of bounds. At this point, it was clear that all three of us were in it to win it.

Then, we saw a piece of yard art at a residential home right across the street from the pharmacy. As we arrived, Melanie was unboxing the selfie stick and installing it on her cell phone while Paul was seeking out the owner to ask permission. I was watching the vehicle drivers watch us as they were breaking and swerving. I started to worry about our shenanigans causing an accident.

“Angle it this way.”

“No, that way.”

“Melanie’s not in the photo.”

“Deb, move closer to Paul.

“Paul, stand behind the artwork.”

“There, we’ve got it. Right?”

“No, the button on the stick doesn’t work.”


All the while, the clock was ticking. And, the fun was melting away in the heat of the afternoon. A short rest stop in the air conditioning of a certain realty office helped buoy our spirits but it didn’t help our progress.

The Results

The spring 2019 event raised $1,000, said King. And, a second fall scavenger hunt with more lead time is being planned for a cooler month, like October or November. She’s also thinking about adding bicycles and motor scooters as part of the transportation mix.

There will also be fewer items on the list so participants will have more time for rest breaks and talking with bystanders along the way, said King. You know, fun!

Oh, and in the true spirit of type-A team players, we are all still speaking to each other.

For more information and for future hunt dates for charity, visit



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