FOUND Offers a New Cincinnati Holiday Origin Story

The month-long downtown event celebrates how the Queen City was established and has evolved into the place we call home.

A month-long interactive holiday celebration called FOUND ramps up this weekend from The Banks to Findlay Market, featuring the region’s largest scavenger hunt and locally made art installations. Developed by 3CDC, AGAR, ArtWorks, the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile Foundation, and other partners, the event is designed to create holiday spirit while focusing on participants’ health and well-being with social distancing.

Seana Higgins (standing) and Dawn Perrin make window decorations for FOUND storefronts.

Photograph by Sam Ujvary

FOUND tells stories of the area’s first settlers on the spot they called Losantiville: the city opposite the mouth of the river. They first laid roots along the Ohio River in December 1788, seeking to lead, inspire, and evolve—building a settlement that never settles. “Winter is the season of the Queen City’s founders,” says AGAR Managing Partner Andrew Salzbrun, “a time to celebrate Cincinnati’s ongoing evolution and rediscover the city.”

Photograph by Sam Ujvary

The citywide scavenger hunt, Finding Losantiville, will offer challenges designed by a team of game creators—four clues per week for a total of 16 over the month. The first person to solve each week’s clues wins $250, and the first person to solve all 16 and find the key to Losantiville wins $4,000 ($2,000 to keep and $2,000 to donate to his/her charity of choice). New clues are revealed each Monday morning throughout the month.

“FOUND will shine a creative and artistic spotlight on a diverse group of communities and our neighborhood small businesses, many of them minority-owned,” says Eric H. Kearney, president of the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce. The Founder’s Forest, a public art installation and “discovery walk,” showcases the individuality of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods, each illuminated with its own uniquely decorated tree. Keep track using the maps on display throughout this walk of wonder and vote for your favorite.

Windows of Wonder installations pay homage to the striking holiday window displays of downtown staples like Shillito’s and Bromwell’s for the better part of the last century. Its 25 windowscapes bring together creative individuals, businesses, and arts associations, and they’ll all be featured on a digital walking map for convenience. Special events and offers will be available on the next three Saturdays, December 5, 12, and 19.

FOUND intentionally traverses through core business areas, which 3CDC’s Joe Rudemiller refers to as the “lifeblood of downtown.” “It’s great to see the resilience of the businesses,“ he says, regarding how the pandemic has impacted small family-owned shops and restaurants. Actively choosing these local businesses for holiday shopping and carryout or outdoor dining can provide much-needed relief and create some new holiday memories at the same time.

Rudemiller says organizers hope to make FOUND a new annual December tradition in Cincinnati. For more details on events or to submit your own event, visit FOUNDCincinnati.com.

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