Well over 1,000 geocachers are expected in Yuma this weekend to participate in the 10th annual Yuma Mega Event hosted by the South Western Arizona Geocachers (SWAG).
The Mega Event, the first of its kind in Arizona, will be held from 9 a.m. until about 3 p.m. Sunday at Gateway Park, located along the Colorado River in the Historic North End. In commemoration of the gathering, the city of Yuma has designated Sunday as Geocaching Day in Yuma.
The event has grown dramatically over the past decade, said Robert “Gideon-X” Mowers, a SWAG member who noted there were only about 35 people at the inaugural gathering.
“This year we decided to have a Mega Event, and we really got out there and pushed and hustled. Right now we are looking at about 1,200 people.”
Participants are traveling to Yuma to be part of the festivities all the way from Canada, Mowers added.
“There are people who are making special trips because it is a Mega Event.”
The tourism generated by the gathering will benefit the local economy, said city of Yuma Councilman Cody Beeson, who gave his personal thanks to the members of SWAG for organizing the event.
“I think it is great we have thoughtful and dedicated citizens willing to host a Mega Event. It brings thousands of new people to our community and challenges them to explore Yuma County. I appreciate the good people that have spent thousands of hours and dollars planning this huge event and showcasing Yuma to the world.”
According to Geocaching.com, the sport was created by Dave Ulmer in May of 2000. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then try to find a geocache, which is usually a container holding a logbook and trinkets.
The finder can take any of the items inside, but only if they replace them with something of equal or greater value. The finder then signs the logbook and returns the geocache to its original location so it can be discovered by the next geocacher.
Geocachers who arrive in Yuma on Friday or Saturday can participate in a special Geocache Challenge. SWAG members have hidden 29 new caches throughout the Yuma area, all accessible with two-wheel-drive vehicles. Three of the caches are designed to be found only at night.
GPS coordinates for each of the 29 geocaches are available online at www.yumaevent.com/New_Cache_Numbers.html. Once a geocache has been found, the geocacher can go online and enter “found it” before 9 p.m. Saturday. Those who do so will automatically be entered into a contest and have a chance to win prizes.
On Friday, geocachers registered to participate in the event are invited to a meet and greet at 6 p.m. at Lutes Casino, 221 Main St.
On Saturday, a second meet and greet will be held at 3 p.m. at the Z Fun Factory, 4446 E. County 10th St.
Registration for Sunday's festivities will begin at 9 a.m. at Gateway Park.
For more information, visit www.yumaevent.com/Events.html.