Finders Keepers drops 2022 glass float schedule for Lincoln City Beaches

Finding agate or sand dollar on the beach is one of the most fun things to do to explore the Oregon coast, and if you’re really lucky, you might find a treasure of a completely different kind.

Stained-glass buoys are hidden almost every day on the beaches of Lincoln on the central Oregon coast, part of a program called Finders Keepers, run by the local tourism organization Explore Lincoln City, which places about 3,000 buoys on the beaches each year. Glass orbs are made by local artists and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

If you missed the inaugural Opening Day holiday on January 8 and 9, don’t worry—there will be plenty of opportunities.

Finders Keepers has 15 more “special drops” scheduled for 2022, when large groups of themed floats will be lowered on beaches from Road’s End to Cutler City. This is in addition to the regular floating drops, which occur every day except on days with hazardous conditions or unusually high tides.

A glass buoy is hidden on a beach in Lincoln, part of the Finders Keepers program that “falls” floats on the beaches of the central Oregon coast daily.Courtesy of Explore Lincoln City

Whoever finds something to keep

Homemade glass buoys are ready-to-hide on beaches in Lincoln, part of the Finders Keepers program that “fall” floats on the beaches of the central Oregon coast daily.Courtesy of Explore Lincoln City

Glass buoys are placed by secret “floating fairies” that they leave in visible places between the high tide line and the shore dam. Stephanie Hall, events and outreach coordinator for Explore Lincoln City, said floats are easily found by anyone lucky enough to find them first.

“We want them to be found,” Hal said. “Finders Keepers is the perfect blend of art meets the outdoors, so it’s a way to entice visitors to explore our beaches and surroundings, experience seven miles of shoreline, and perhaps find a beautiful souvenir.”

The next big drop in the schedule is Antique Week, which will see 100 antique Japanese floats distributed along seven miles of shore in Lincoln between February 12 and 21. The alluring trophies also harken back to the original inspiration of Finders Keepers.

Fishermen have traditionally used glass floats, especially in Japan, to keep their nets floating in the water. The air inside the glass orbs kept them afloat, a feature that also allowed them to drift thousands of miles across the ocean, with many of them ending up on beaches along the Pacific coast.

Because glass floats are no longer used for fishing, finding them on Oregon’s beaches is rare today. In the late 1990s, a group of Lincoln city artists decided to make their own glass floats for placement on beaches, an idea that would become Finders Keepers. The event was first held in 1999 as a way to celebrate the new millennium, and quickly became a hit with tourists and locals alike.

In 2018, Explore Lincoln City decided to make Finders Keepers a year-round event, with a full calendar of special prizes in addition to daily events. The program was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but was revived in 2021.

Finders Keepers are flexible in nature, limited only by the interest of the public and the number of people willing to volunteer as “floating fairies”. This means it can grow or shrink, Hull said, evolving to suit the needs or wants of the community it supports.

“Who knows what festivities or future ideas will come from this,” she said. “You never know what will happen.”

Whoever finds something to keep

A glass buoy is hidden on a beach in Lincoln, part of the Finders Keepers program that “falls” floats on the beaches of the central Oregon coast daily.Courtesy of Explore Lincoln City

Whoever finds something to keep

A glass buoy is hidden on a beach in Lincoln, part of the Finders Keepers program that “falls” floats on the beaches of the central Oregon coast daily.Courtesy of Explore Lincoln City

So how can anyone look for a float? The best advice, Hull said, is to not actually look for one, but simply enjoy the views and let the buoy get to you—no different from finding anything else on the beach, whether it’s petrified, whole sand dollar or large agate.

“Don’t overthink or overexert yourself,” Hull said. “Relax and enjoy your surroundings and you could come across a good one.”

Each buoy comes with instructions on how to register it online or over the phone, a process that helps Lincoln City explorers know that each buoy has been successfully found. Once you register your pontoon, the organization will send you a certificate of authenticity and information about the artist who made the pontoon.

Here’s the Finders Keepers “Special Drop” schedule for 2022:

January 8-9 Opening weekend: 100 floats (Note this change in date, due to tides on January 1-3)

February 12-21Antiques Week: 100 Japanese Antiques

February 12-14 – Valentine’s Day: 50 red/pink/white floats

March 19 – April 3 Spring Break: 200 floats

From 22 to 24 April Earth Day: 50 Floats on Earth Day

7-9 May Mother’s Day: 50 floats

May 28-30 Memorial Day: 50 red/white/blue buoys

25-26 June Summer Kite: 10 rafts of hope

June TBD Casino Anniversary: ​​27 floats

June 18-19 Father’s Day: 50 Fare

3-5 September College ball: 20 green/yellow and 20 orange/black

September TBD Honor Celebration: 50pcs red/white/blue floats

1-2 october Kite Crash: 10 Hope Floats

24-27 November – Thanksgiving: 50 floats

December 10-11 Basketball: 50 red/black floats

December 19-25 Winter Vacation: 50 buoys

– Jimmy Hill; jhale@oregonian.com; 503-294-4077; Tweet embed

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