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Parks Officials Marketing Facilities as Pokemon Go Destinations

30 Nov, 2016

By: Michael Popke

If you thought the Pokémon Go craze was over, think again.

Park officials in Columbus, Ohio, recently sponsored a Pokémon Go “Win the Gym” event, in which players were divided into teams and had two hours to use their smartphones and battle for control of a digital “gym” in Blendon Woods Metro Park.

(If you aren’t familiar with Pokémon Go, nothing in the preceding paragraph probably made sense. We suggest you read this.)

According to The Columbus Dispatch, this was the park’s second “Win the Gym” event and the fourth tied to the augmented reality, GPS-based smartphone game that became all the rage in July

“We saw a noticeable increase in park visitors at the beginning [of the Pokémon Go craze],” Brandon Novotny, a ranger at Blendon Woods, told the paper. “So we all thought, ‘How can we capitalize on this? Let’s see if we can get a program going.’”

Senior naturalist Andrea Krava, who enjoyed the nontraditional use of the park, noted that the number of Pokémon hunters has slowed down this fall but hasn’t stopped. “We have seen all ages out here playing, from little kids to grandparents,” she told the Dispatch. “And the fact is, they’re coming to the park, even if it’s not for the same reason I would be here. So many people have said, ‘I haven’t been here in years; I’m so glad the game forced me to come back.’”

And they might keep coming back. Niantic, which developed Pokémon Go, is expected to roll out new features soon, and tech news site Boy Genius Report notes that “Pokémon Go is still one of the most popular mobile games out there.”

In Duluth, Minn., Leif Erikson Park has become “the epicenter” of the state for Pokémon Go, according to Darlene Marshall, special events coordinator for the city’s Greater Downtown Council. And a Pokémon Go walking tour of Bryan Park in Richmond, Va., last month included about 20 Pokémon stops and several gyms while offering participants a chance to take in some local sights they might not otherwise have experienced.  

“You’ll see the Azalea Garden, the Camp House and the Nature Center,” tour leader Berkeley Goodloe told the Richmond Times-Leader in advance of the event. “We hope to show people what the park has to offer in terms of natural beauty and Pokémon.”

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