The great Tacoma Monkeyshine hunt

This week, Tacoma residents will search for elusive Monkeyshines for the 20th year.

Photo by @MonkeyshinesTacoma via Facebook | An example of a glass Monkeyshine from a previous year.

It’s that time of year again when Tacoma residents will be out and about hunting for elusive Monkeyshines. This year will mark the 20th year that Tacoma glass artists have kept with the tradition, hiding glass ornaments such as medallions and floats marked with the zodiac animal that corresponds with the Lunar New Year. 

The tradition began back in 2004 when the anonymous glass artist, Ms. Monkey, created 250 glass ornaments. Ms. Monkey stamped these ornaments with a bronze monkey stamp and hid them around Tacoma for the Lunar New Year, which just so happened to be the Year of the Monkey in 2004. 

Ever since then, Ms. Monkey and a large team of Tacoma glass artists have kept with the tradition of creating floats and medallions and hiding them all around town. The team has since grown with multiple studios assisting with the project, including Tacoma Glass Blowing studio, Area 253 Glassblowing and Hilltop Artists. 

Tacoma Glass Blowing studio has been helping Ms. Monkey since 2006 and contributes around 1,200 floats and medallions, a representative of Tacoma Glass Blowing Studio told The Ledger. 

This year, Ms. Monkey and her team plan on hiding around 2,000 Monkeyshines for the community to find following the weekend of the Lunar New Year, which fell on January 22. This year is the Year of the Rabbit, so medallions and floats will have rabbits on them. 

Ms. Monkey and her team of over 100 artists plan to hide Monkeyshines over town in the following weeks and anyone can find them almost whenever. But be careful, Ms. Monkey and her helpers are known to hide Monkeyshines in some tricky spots.  

“It is amazing to see how Tacoma has embraced this crazy tradition. It really makes the cool, rainy, sometimes snowy and icy winter months a magical wonderland in Tacoma,” said Ms. Monkey. 

This project involves months of work at the various glass studios, but Ms. Monkey finds herself working on the project all throughout the year.

There aren’t just classical Monkeyshines to keep your eye out for though, Ms. Monkey and her team have inspired what are known as “rogue monkeys.” These rogues will go out and hide their own art around town that is inspired by Ms. Monkey’s Monkeyshines and will feature the animal of the year as well. 

These rogue Monkeyshines can include stickers, wooden coins, painted rocks, etc. If you go out and search in a park, chances are you might spot a rogue Monkeyshine somewhere. 

A Tacoma resident turned rogue, Jeep Monkey, talks about their first time hunting for Monkeyshines with their kids.

“We arrived at their school a little early and my kids begged me to take them to the park down the street before school. We had about 20 minutes, so I said, sure.  We got to the park and my oldest went running off to the playground. There it was; a Year of the Dragon orb under the slide. It was the most amazing, serendipitous moment ever. We’ve been hooked ever since.” 

Hunting for Monkeyshines can be an all-day event with individuals waking up before the sun is up looking through parks for Monkeyshines.  

“For a long time, they hid everything mostly in one night. We were up at 3 a.m., out there in the dark searching. Nowadays, they hide over multiple days, so there is no need to get up so early. When it falls on a weekday, we all take the day off, I call the kids out from school, and we search. Yes, I’m honest with the schools about why they aren’t there,” said Jeep Monkey. 

“Last year I did a tiger medallion. We also did a lot of magnets. This year I’m doing a Moon Rabbit, some resin jars and some necklaces that I’m making with my daughter,” Jeep Monkey said, talking about the rogue items they like to hide.

Hunting for Monkeyshines is a quirky tradition in Tacoma. If anyone would want to see the hype surrounding the yearly hunt, they simply need to check Instagram or Twitter under #monkeyshines2023. 

There are a few rules to follow if one is hunting for the first time and doesn’t know where to start. If one does find a Monkeyshine, remember you can only take one per household (this does not apply to rogue Monkeyshines you may find, just glass). If you do find more than one glass ornament, you are free to re-hide, or leave it. 

You must not give out any clues about where a Monkeyshine may be if you know where one is. 

You cannot give away your Monkeyshine, if you would like to get rid of them for some reason, you may re-hide them as well. 

It’s pretty simple, if you don’t know where to start, start in your neighborhood. Monkeys live all over Tacoma and love to hide the Monkeyshines in neighborhoods, parks, bus stops, anywhere really, even parking lots. 

Ms. Monkey shared some words of encouragement for those who may be hunting for their first time. 

“Have fun. And remember the gift of The Monkeyshines Project is getting out and about in Tacoma, making new friends, seeing new places, and having great adventures. If you find a treasure well that’s a bonus. Oh, bring a bag and pick up trash please.” 

If you would like to find more information about Monkeyshines, you can visit their Facebook page at You can also donate to the Gofundme Monkeyshines 2023 project at