A Willy Wonka-esque adventure is well underway somewhere off the Southern California coast.
Sport Chalet, in association with TUSA, Aqua Lung, Mares and Sea Pearls, has invited certified scuba divers to go searching for three gold bars, which are redeemable at any Sport Chalet.
Each bar doubles as a Sport Chalet gift card, with values of $5,000, $3,000 and $1,000.
This is Sport Chalet's first treasure hunt, and the La Cañada-based sporting goods chain plans to make it an annual event, said Jacqueline Collard, senior marketing manager. People have been waiting inside Sport Chalet stores to get first crack at the day's clue, and the company saw hits on its Internet social networking sites increase, she said.
"It appeals to the inquisitive child in everyone who wants to find that gold, something different no one else can find," Collard said.
Every day, clues to the bars' location are posted on Sport Chalet's website, http://www.sportchalet.com, and on its Twitter and Facebook pages. The contest started July 14 and ends Sunday.
No one has redeemed any of the bars yet.
Those interested in participating can become certified scuba divers at Sport Chalet, which is the largest certifier in the nation. Potential divers are invited to experience the sport on the third Saturday of each month during their "Discover Scuba" clinic at participating stores.
"We are hoping this will get people engaged in the fun of scuba diving and find a great bounty at the end of it all," Collard said.
Contest participants must be open-water certified and at least 18 years old.
"The clues get very descriptive as time goes along," Collard said. "Our goal is to give someone the opportunity to claim them."
If the bars aren't claimed by July 25, they will be removed from the ocean.