A group of East Bronx history buffs won first place at the Bronx 100 Scavenger Hunt in July, participating as the “Huntington Hunters” to benefit the free library and reading room in Westchester Square.
On August 21, East Bronx History Forum members Mike Gupta, Nilka Martell, Tom Vasti and Tom Casey presented their winnings of $2,500 to the Huntington Free Library and Reading Room.
Casey, who is president of the Huntington Free Library, said that as soon as he heard about the scavenger hunt he was excited about it.
“Immediately my mind started working on how I could put together the perfect team that would be unbeatable,” said Casey.
The four history forum members each brought vast knowledge of the borough, said Casey, who has written several books about Bronx History. The photographic scavenger hunt was made up of 200 clues that lead to locations throughout the Bronx, and one member of the team knew the answer to almost every question, said Casey.
“My team really impressed me,” he said.
The hardest part was not figuring out the clues, said Casey, but logistically getting to as many places as possible. He said they started at the courthouse near where the hunt began, wound their way through the south Bronx, then up the east Bronx and over to the to northwest Bronx. He said they were able to make it to about 145 places over the all-day hunt, and came in well ahead of the second place team.
He said the team had a great time participating, and appreciated the hard work that went into writing the clues.
“I enjoyed it,” he said. “It was fun for us.”
Huntington Free Library
It was important to the team to win the prize money for the library where the history forum meets each month, said Casey.
“Huntington is all volunteer based,” said Casey. “And we do have financial difficulties.”
The landmarked building houses a non-circulating collection of books and materials, and is trying to attract more visitors and organizations in order to become a community center. One upcoming project with that goal in mind is to tear down the old garage in library’s yard and rebuild the shed in the corner of the lot, said Casey
“We want to develop the greenspace back there,” he said.
The goal is to have the yard be available to the public and attract more organizations and events to the space.
The mission of the original library, endowed in 1891, was to be a place not only of learning, but of entertainment and community, said Casey, and that ideal hasn’t changed.
“I want to make the public aware of our need to make Huntington a destination,” said Casey.