The hunt for Sheldon Smith’s wrench came to an end on Sunday, March 10, when the Nienhuis family team found the wrench in Staring Lake Park, said Smith Coffee owner Ann Schuster.

Bethany and Marcel Nienhuis, with their kids Nya, 7, and Nash, 5, and family friend Benj Thomas, found the wrench by a large V-shaped tree at the base of the Staring Lake Park sledding hill. By Sunday, Smith Coffee had released six clues in its annual treasure hunt, and there were plenty of hunters who had figured out that the wrench was somewhere near Staring Lake, Marcel Nienhuis told Eden Prairie News in an email.

“I luckily happened to be the one that hit it first, but it could have been anyone at that point,” Marcel Nienhuis wrote.

The Nienhuis family lives near Smith Coffee and has participated in the treasure hunt for four or five years, Marcel Nienhuis told Eden Prairie News. They found Sheldon’s wrench in 2017 as well, and the whole family was hooked.

“When we saw that Smith was hosting the contest again this year, we knew we’d put in a full effort — and we did!” Marcel Nienhuis wrote. “We searched every day of the hunt, covering three different parks, for at least an hour each day.”

After finding the wrench in the spring of 2017, the family attended an Eden Prairie Historical Society event in October 2017 in which actors stood in front of the graves of famous Eden Prairie residents and told stories of their lives, Marcel Nienhuis wrote.

“We really feel a connection to the past in getting to ‘meet’ Sheldon Smith and find his wrench,” Marcel Nienhuis said. “The kids immediately told him that we found his lost wrench that year, and the actor played along.”

In the spirit of camaraderie with the other hunters, the Nienhuis family has shared the $200 gift coupon to Smith Coffee with several of the other families who were active in the hunt, Marcel Nienhuis told Eden Prairie News.

“We are thankful to Smith Cafe for hosting the hunt and providing this enriching activity for the community that ties in Eden Prairie history,” he wrote. “It’s a fun mental and physical challenge that adds a little excitement to the long snowy winter. Most importantly, we are glad Sheldon got his wrench back.”

When it’s not hiding in a snowbank somewhere in the community, Sheldon’s wrench stays safe in a secret location in Smith Coffee, Schuster told Eden Prairie News.

Eden Teller is the multimedia reporter for Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about fostering productive conversations and empowering communities. When she's not reporting, she can be found reading a book, on a hike or tackling home improvement projects.

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