Naperville Catches Pokémon Craze

From the campus of North Central College, to the downtown storefronts, to the Riverwalk, people are catching ‘em all with the new hit game, Pokémon Go.

Local player Marcus Falls welcomes the chance to get outside, saying, “It has me exercising, exploring new places because I have to find new Pokémon and just having a blast. I’m not stuck in my house or in caves or anything. I have to go out, I meet a lot of fantastic people.”

The augmented reality game allows players to become Pokémon trainers through GPS technology that makes Pokémon appear outside in the real world for trainers to catch them.

“So essentially it works using geolocation, and the more traffic you get in an area, the more GPS signals are in an area,” explains Omar Sandovall, IT Manager of the Naperville Park District. “So it draws more of the characters and of the actual features of the game because it’s just naturally generated by the traffic of people walking through.”

  Pokéstops, locations where players can obtain items and Pokémon in the game, are located all over Naperville at places like parks, historical buildings, monuments, and art installations. There are over fifty of the spots downtown for trainers to gather at and make connections.

One of those trainers, Devin Jacobs, remarked, “The typical thing you see is people kinda looking at their phones, but you also see people interacting that would never be talking to each other. Like people are looking around, asking what team everyone’s on. So it’s a great way to make new friends.”

While it’s fun to be on an adventure with hundreds of other trainers, it’s important to remember to be smart and safe. Brian Cunningham, Naperville Deputy Police Chief reminds players to be aware of their surroundings, saying, “People walking around downtown the Riverwalk, actually looking at their phones, raising their phones trying to capture all these Pokémon obviously not paying attention to the traffic patterns – they could walk out in the street and get hit.”

And Brian says drivers also need to keep safety in mind. “Make sure somebody else is actually playing the game and somebody is driving,” he cautions. “Make sure that there’s some separation there.”

  As long as you’re careful by the roads, the dozens of Pokéstops and beautiful parks make downtown Naperville make an ideal Pokémon Go destination.

“We welcome everybody to our parks and they’re here for your enjoyment so please come out,” says Naperville Park District Police Chief Carl Schnibben, who is happy to see so much foot traffic.

If you want to find others to search with you, there are active local sites on Facebook with fellow trainers.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.

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