Tom Pepper’s Puzzle celebrates Edina

Tom Pepper’s Edina Quasquicentennial crossword puzzle.

Click here to open a full-size version of Tom Pepper's crossword puzzle.If you’ve spent any time with crossword puzzles, you’ve no doubt seen clues like “ritzy Minneapolis suburb” or “Minneapolis neighbor” and immediately known the answer: Edina. “It’s all those vowels,” explains Edina resident Tom Pepper, who has twice had puzzles published in the New York Times. “The name works well.” Writing one clue about Edina is a piece of cake. Writing a whole puzzle about Edina and its 125-year-history is “amazingly fun,” Pepper says (and yes, it might involve a clue or two about cake as well.) The Quasquicentennial Committee asked Pepper to create an entire puzzle about Edina for the city’s 125th anniversary this year. This crossword is meant for even those who wouldn’t tackle a Times puzzle, even in pencil. “I’m hoping those who would not normally attempt a crossword might try this because it’s all about Edina—a theme they know something about,” Pepper says. Having grown up here, Pepper himself knows something about Edina history. He attended Edina schools and after a time living in other states, he returned to his hometown. In an effort to incorporate as many local clues as possible, Pepper didn’t follow the high standards of the Times puzzle editor Will Shortz. But he had fun incorporating some of his memories in the puzzle, including coaches, restaurants and important landmarks. Pepper says he dabbled a little with puzzles when he was a kid, but didn’t start constructing them until a few years ago as an empty-nester. Contrary to popular opinion, a good puzzle maker isn’t necessarily a wordsmith by trade. “Most are math and music people,” says Pepper, a self-proclaimed “numbers guy” who works as finance director for the City of Eagan.