Inside the Capitol

Thursday, August 25, 2011

8-29 Billy the Kid Still at Large

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Here's an update on the Miller posse's efforts to Catch the Kid.
New Mexico's attempts to increase tourism have long been a favorite subject of this column. So when new Tourism Department secretary Monique Jacobson came up with a Billy the Kid treasure hunt, I was intrigued.
This contest is somewhat targeted toward younger adults because Jacobson noticed that most New Mexico tourists are older than average.
The game is easier to play using a smartphone. Since I'm not smart enough to have such a gadget, we included our kids and grandkids in the Miller posse.
They all live in Phoenix, where one doesn't like to be this time of year. So they plan summer trips this direction anyway. And besides Mom was laid up in the hospital and needed company.
I previously told you that one carload of the posse came last month and found lots of Billy's loot but no clues, due to technical difficulties. The second carload had better luck -- three clues and lots more loot.
The contest rules suggest enlisting family and friends for your posse. So I rounded up some Billy the Kid historians. After they started deciphering the clues, I realized that a knowledge of the Kid's history was not necessary. A knowledge of New Mexico is.
Fortunately, one of my Billy historians also has a superior knowledge of our state. That's as it should be. The purpose of the contest is familiarize people with our state, not with Billy the Kid.
After combining those three clues, we decided we know where Billy is hiding and even have a good idea when he will be found.
Since the thrill of the hunt was the important factor to us, we decided we will not vie for the $10,000 prize. In the immortal words of Mike Pitel, who figured out the most important clue, "I don't want the money, just the glory."
For those of you who would like a shot at that money, there still is time. It can be done. It is much fun. And there are many other great prizes.
Every week a prize drawing is held among those who have uncovered a clue. The prizes include lodging, meals and participation in the area's many activities.
Then there is a general store where loot gathered in every county of the state can be redeemed for resort nights, restaurants, services and merchandise. An indication of the contest's popularity is that nearly everything has been redeemed.
But there is still the $10,000 prize and the weekly prize drawings for posses that find clues during the coming weeks of September.
And the bonus is that you will have fun traveling the state. The loot is hidden in state parks and monuments. You've been wanting to get out and see those anyway, haven't you?
This may even encourage you to figure out how a smartphone works. What you do is download an app that opens when you get to the GPS coordinates of a clue or loot. It tells you the clue and the number of coins you have just won. The rest is done for you.
The big computer in the sky at the state Tourism Department credits your account with the number of coins awarded at that location and enters you in the drawing for the weekly prize.
Secretary Jacobson tells me the app developed for this contest is the first of its kind. A similar contest now is being run by a big national chain to try to get people to as many of its locations as possible.
You still can sign up your posse by going to Over 2,000 posses already have registered. Jacobson says she expected most of the posses to come from New Mexico but half of them have been from out of state.
Jacobson's background and creativity appear to have New Mexico tourism headed in the right direction.
MON, 8-29-11

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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