The air was thick with mosquitos Tuesday evening as the Anderson family continued their hunt for Sheriff Mele’s badge of honor.
Since Saturday, Carl Anderson, his wife, Lacee, son, Kurtis, 7, and daughters Emmy, 4, and 9-month-old Ally had searched for the chance to save the Mother Lode Roundup Parade and Rodeo.
Coyote Sam stole Sheriff Jim Mele’s badge of honor during a daring noon-time heist in downtown Sonora and buried it.
Before setting out Saturday, the Anderson family studied the first four clues that Coyote Sam’s turncoats had sent to The Union Democrat. The Andersons searched in Tuolumne, but decided to move on after reading this clue.
“Whiskey was sought, the melee now done, Mele’s badge now in hand, they followed the sun. The trail was quite dusty, ‘spite crossin’ a creek, Tail right along, to the treasure you seek.”
The line about the sun convinced them to move their search to west county.
After striking out in the area near the Bell Mooney monument, they used the clues to narrow down their search area to the old highway between Golf Links and Wigwam roads.
"We looked through the whole day yesterday. My whole family was there, said Kurtis. "We looked until the mosquitos got too bad.”
The winners of the 2016 and 2017 hunt were searching alongside the Andersons.
"We were all talking and hoped one of our families would find it," said Lacee Anderson. "We were searching for it with a potato rake, a shovel and a probe.”
As the daylight hours were waning, the Anderson decided to call off their search for the day and headed home.
After dinner, Lacee Anderson decided to check to see if the latest clue had been posted at uniondemocrat.com.
After reading, “The trail there’s too hard, to dig up what you seek, so look to the side, don’t fall in the creek. The span holds the key, at the center for sure, three eight ‘n three nine, then out 12 for the lure,” Lacee and her husband Carl were confident they knew a more exact location.
About 9 p.m., after the kids were in bed, Carl Anderson headed back out. It didn’t take long for him to locate the box.
“It’s really obvious when the probe or shovel hits it that it isn't a rock, it sounds hollow,” said Carl Anderson.
A phone call home rousted Kurtis, who ran into the room after hearing his mom say, “Oh my gosh, are you kidding?”
"I was really excited, I knew my dad would go look for it more,” said Kurtis.
This is the second time the Andersons have helped save the parade. In 2015, they found the treasure along with Peter Leibold and split the reward.
Wednesday morning, Kurtis, dressed in jeans, boots, a black western shirt and a white cowboy hat, along with his mom and sisters, brought the box to The Union Democrat offices to claim his $200 reward.
When asked who the check should be made out to, Kurtis said, “Me!”
It was made out to mom Lacee for safe keeping.
Good news for the Andersons is good news for parade fans. This year’s Mother Lode Roundup Parade will go on as planned. It’s set to begin at 10 a.m. and wrap up around 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The parade will travel from the corner of Restano Way and South Washington Street northbound up Washington Street to Snell Street, then to School Street, where it will end.
The following closures to parking and vehicle traffic will be in effect before and during the parade:
• South Washington Street at Highway 108 will close at 8 a.m.
• School Street between Washington Street (Highway 49) and Snell Street will close at 9:30 a.m.
• North and South Washington Street and through traffic from Highway 49 will close at 9:30 a.m.
• Stockton Road (Highway 49) at Green Street will close at 9:30 a.m.
• Wyckoff Street at Snell Street will close at 9:30 a.m.
• Snell Street at Bonanza Street will close at 9:30 a.m.
• All of Restano Way will be closed at 9:30 a.m., but the eastbound right turn lane onto Mono Way will close at 8 a.m.
No parking will be allowed between 5 a.m. and the parade’s end on Washington Street from Elkin to Toby Streets; and between Washington Street and 70 Stockton Road. Restricted side streets include Elkin, Dodge, Jackson, Yaney, Bradford, Theall, Linoberg, Church, June, Gold, Williams and Lytton. The streets will be closed at Stewart Street prior to the parade. South Green Street from Dodge Street to Stockton Road, will also be closed before the parade.
Signs will be posted for no-parking zones. Violators may be towed.
The rodeo begins at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds. For a full schedule, see The Union Democrat on Friday.
Guiseppe Ricapito contributed to this report.