As melting snows in recent days unearthed eye-popping craters in driving lanes in St. Paul, Highland Park resident Nate Hood invited members of his neighborhood Facebook page to participate in a friendly competition — a scavenger hunt of sorts for the “best” pothole around.
“Everyone’s complaining about them,” said Hood, who opted instead for a visual celebration of the treacherous holes. “I thought, let’s do something a little different.”
Hood received some 20 qualifying submissions, on top of goofy internet memes and images from outside the region, if not the moon. His five-year-old daughter Hadley served as sole judge and jury, and came up on Wednesday with her top three.
• “Stuffy Unicorn,” a photo of a stuffed unicorn eyeing a sizable pothole at Upper Afton Road and Battle Creek Road. The image was submitted by graphic designer Caitlyn Wakem, who can now add “award-winning pothole illustrator” to her resume.
• An honorable mention was awarded to Pooja Singh for “Fox Pothole,” an image of large cracks that formed in the general shape of a perched fox, complete with bushy tale, in the Jewish Community Center parking lot at St. Paul Avenue and Davern Street.
• Another honorable mention was awarded to Denise Lembecker Moseng for “Double Portal,” which captures patches of the original brick street punching through the asphalt on Cretin Avenue, just before Ford Parkway, like Victorian cobblestone erupting through time.
The images are an early prelude to what could be a driving season for the record books. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter has predicted that given record snowfalls, the spring thaw of 2023 may go down as one of the worst pothole eras in memory.
Hood said that for her efforts to inject some fun into the road tribulations, Wakem will receive the grand prize, a $10 gift card to Target.