Since 2003, Tacoma has celebrated Chinese New Year with a culturally beloved tradition known as Monkeyshines. A scavenger hunt for hidden hand-blown gleaming glass balls, medallions and glass stones are scattered all around Tacoma to be found by the community. Originally, the simple project was created by the anonymous Ms. Monkey and her crew of glass artists to bring joy to Tacoma during rough times. The community loved it and wanted more, and a new Tacoma tradition was born. Even the mysterious Marbleman has been popping up in the past couple of years with his handmade glass marbles to add to the thrilling treasure hunt.
WHAT EXACTLY IS MONKEYSHINES?
A local artist, who goes by Ms. Monkey, started the tradition back in 2003. Every year, Ms. Monkey and her crew create hand-blown glass art such as orbs and medallions stamped with the animal symbol that corresponds with the given year’s Chinese New Year’s zodiac sign. The glass artifacts are then hidden throughout Tacoma in places such as parks, monuments and other well-known public areas.
WHEN IS MONKEYSHINE?
WHAT TIME DOES THE MONKEYSHINES SCAVENGER HUNT START?
Many people will start hunting as early as 6 a.m. on Chinese New Year. The hunt will go on until all the glass artifacts are found. This could take weeks or even months. Rumors are, Ms. Monkey still has glass art hidden from 2005 that remains to be found.
WHAT DO MONKEYSHINES LOOK LIKE?
Monkeyshines are hand-blown glass art which can range from colorful orbs, medallions and even marbles.
HOW MANY MONKEYSHINES ARE HIDDEN EVERY YEAR?
It can range from approximately 1,000 to 2,000 glass artifacts. In 2016, there were more than 1,000 glass objects hidden all throughout Tacoma. This year, approximately 50 glass artists will make about 2,000 monkeyshines to hide. All Monkeyshines are hidden throughout Tacoma, some in plain sight, while others are extremely well hidden.
HOW MANY MONKEYSHINES ARE WE ALLOWED TO TAKE?
Ms. Monkey and her crew ask that you should only take one so others have a chance to find some, too. If you’re lucky enough to find more than one, re-hide it for the next person; remember, sharing is caring.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR MONKEYSHINES?
Some hot spots to start scouring are popular parks such as the Chinese Reconciliation Park and Wright Park, but beware as these places are often packed. Although, if you want to start somewhere more familiar, check out the UW Tacoma campus and the water foundations around the Chihuly Glass bridge. Monkeyshines can also be found around the Lincoln district like Lincoln Park. Many people have even reported finding Monkeyshines all the way in Lakewood at the Pierce County Library. Other areas to check out are Titlow, the Point Defiance Zoo Area and Owens Beach. Remember to check the trees, bushes, potted plants, sculptures and signposts. Avoid private property, as Monkeyshines are only hidden in public spaces. Though people have reported finding Monkeyshines as far as Steilacoom and University Place, most Monkeyshines are located in Tacoma.
Happy Monkeyshine season and happy hunting.