It was the last place we expected to find a squirtle — under the railroad tracks on Main Street in Wellington. But there he was. Two PokeBalls later, the digital creature was captured.
If you’ve seen packs of young adults walking around Wellington with eyes glued more intently than usual to their smart phones, they’re likely on the hunt for their own pocket monsters via GPS.
After all, you gotta catch ‘em all.
The quest comes with the release of Pokemon Go, a free-to-play mobile app that debuted July 6.
The augmented reality game allows “trainers” to see Pokemon in the real world all around, and transforms cities into areas filled with PokeStops (places to get prizes) and gyms (places where Pokemon can battle).
For example, downtown is ripe with PokeStops at the Herrick Memorial Library, Willard Memorial, Spirit of ‘76 plaque, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Farm & Home Hardware murals, and Crosier cheese mural. Gyms flank the historical stretch at the LorMet ATM and First Congregational Church.
The game is fun but doesn’t come without its dangers.
“We’ve had instances of people going in backyards and other places they don’t belong. We ask residents and people visiting our community to be respectful of places that are not public property,” Wellington police chief Tim Barfield said.
Lt. Jeff Shelton said there have been groups caught in Greenwood Cemetery as late as 4 a.m. “This app seems to be hinged on landmarks and that needs to be taken into account when going out to these places. Parents also need to be aware that it can be used to lure in people to be robbed or even by a sex offender.”
Pokemon Go players have already stumbled on some scary sights.
One teenager in Wyoming was on the hunt for digital catches when she stumbled on a corpse floating in a river. At least one hospital has warned staff that PokePlayers might wander into secure areas. And police in Missouri reported muggers targeted folks at PokeStops.
Players say not to over-inflate those dangers.
“There’s two sides to every story. People are asking us why we’re outside playing this game but before it was asking us why we were on the couch all day,” said Mark Calhoun. “What do you want from me?”
“I’ve met people I wouldn’t have met before and made some new friends,” said Kull McClurg. “I can see, though, how some are not using common sense about where they go.”
The game has been praised for getting folks out and walking or cycling long distances to hit up poke-locations. It also forces players to travel a few kilometers at a time to hatch eggs that hold more Pokemon. Don’t try to fool the game, which can tell when you’re in a car, and that doesn’t count.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-647-3171 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jon Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or email@example.com.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise John Bryant, Kaitlyn Winebrenner, Noah Clark, Kull McClurg, and Mark Calhoun enjoy a game of Pokemon Go outside of Wellington town hall.