Karl Halili spent years devouring movies and television and hanging around Laguna Beach. And all he got out of it was a medal.
The Tustin resident, who works for his city's Parks and Recreation Department, was officially recognized in October as a scholar of Laguna. He, his girlfriend and another couple took first place in the Laguna Beach Art Adventure, a scavenger hunt of sorts in which teams compete to find landmarks around town.
Unlike in a typical scavenger hunt, the participants don't get to take the items with them — they just have to locate and identify them from the clues given. Halili, who estimated his team finished first by an hour, said an extensive pop culture knowledge helped to decipher many of the hints.
"It helps if you know a little bit about Laguna beforehand," he said. "There's a lot of clues where you kind of need to know about old movies or just different things everybody should know. Just common sense questions."
So what's a question participants might encounter in the next Art Adventure, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday?
Producer John Hennessy, whose company Race/LA hosts the event, kept his lips sealed — although he said a clue in his company's West Hollywood hunt had been to locate a street named after a "famous found fish."
The answer: "Nemo Street."
In Laguna, needless to say, most of the clues relate to outdoor art. Checking off all the correct answers, though, isn't the only way to rack up points in the Art Adventure; teams can get extra credit for snapping pictures of seagulls, surfers and other common Laguna sights.
"You're looking at some of the public art in Laguna Beach and some of the history of Laguna Beach as well," Hennessy said.
Race/LA began the adventure hunts in 2007 and operates them in cities across the Southland. Among the other locations are Culver City, Old Pasadena and Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles.
And for locals who want another round after Laguna, there's another one coming shortly: the Newport Beach Bayside Adventure is just around the corner on April 6.
If You Go
What: Laguna Beach Art Adventure
Where: Meets at Main Beach across the street from Laguna South Coast Cinemas
When: 11 a.m. Sunday
Cost: $40 (reservations required)