Sue Petrillo found the Yule Log in Dr. Rich Weiss Park in 2010. Her family can't wait to begin the search again this year when the first clue is released Thursday.

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Sue Petrillo found the Yule Log in Dr. Rich Weiss Park in 2010. Her family can't wait to begin the search again this year when the first clue is released Thursday.

Steamboat Springs Yule Log tradition continues Thursday

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At a glance

■ The 3-foot-long, 50-pound log is hidden somewhere in Steamboat Springs and marked “Yule Log” in red writing

■ Clues will lead readers on a virtual journey from the spot of last year’s log at Dr. Rich Weiss Park.

■ Clues are listed in Happenings in the Steamboat Today each weekday morning for 10 days or until the log is found.

■ When the log is found, alert the Tread of Pioneers Museum immediately at 970-879-2214. The log must be presented in person to claim the prizes.

— For the Petrillo family, a 20-year tradition will begin again at the crack of dawn Thursday.

Upon receiving that morning’s Steamboat Today, Sue Petrillo will hold a family meeting to discuss the day’s cryptic clue to finding the Steamboat Springs Yule Log, hidden somewhere in city limits by the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s helper elves.

Then, it’s time to hit the streets, parks and paths for any sign of the 3-foot-long pine log sought after by many families each December for more than 30 years.

“It’s a lot of walking,” Petrillo said. “We cover miles and miles and miles.”

The clues, released on 10 successive weekdays in the Happenings section of the Steamboat Today and on the radio, will take readers on a virtual journey from last year’s hiding spot at the picnic deck of Dr. Rich Weiss Park to the 2011 location.

If no one has found the log by the 10th clue, that final one should lead to its hiding spot Dec. 21.

But Petrillo and her family rely on a little extra holiday magic to find the log the way they have the past two years.

“We never seem to be able to figure that part of it out,” Petrillo said about deciphering the clues to find the final hiding spot. “It’s really a lot of luck and searching.”

Candice Bannister, Tread of Pioneers Museum director, said the same 50-pound log has been in use for decades, decorated with the engraved names of past winners. The hunt dates back to at least 1978, when John Bowers used to write the clues in an attempt to stump the community. In 1997, Tread of Pioneers volunteers took over clue-writing duty.

This year, the grand prize is a $150 Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association gift certificate and an engraved plaque.

Bannister said there are several families who have found the log repeatedly throughout the years.

“We get so much feedback from community members who look forward to this every year, who follow it religiously and work with their families or work with kids,” Bannister said.

Petrillo said she has been participating in the community-wide puzzle since her daughters, Angie and Jenny, were toddlers.

“It’s a family affair for us, and my kids grew up in Steamboat, so we all know the trivia of the area, the history of Steamboat,” Petrillo said. “You have to know the history to get some of the clues.”

But it was a misinterpretation of a clue last year that led to her accidental discovery in Dr. Rich Weiss Park. The jury is still out on whether her golden retriever, Yukon, had anything to do with the find.

The Petrillos donated the $150 to community member Michele Dunklin, who was recovering from a car accident. Petrillo said there’s so much more to the search than winning the prize money.

“It’s the satisfaction of putting our name on it,” she said.

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

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