Pokémon Go players on the chase all around Milford

People a bit behind the curve might have wondered early this week why there were so many people downtown.

It was Monday evening when a local woman commented to her 25-year-old daughter, “There are a lot of people on the green tonight, mostly young people.”

“They’re looking for Pokémon,” the daughter replied.

“Oh,” the mother responded, tuning in a couple of days late to the Pokémon Go craze sweeping the nation and beyond.

Pokémon Go is an augmental reality game that uses real locations to entice players to search high and low for Pokémon, according to the Pokémon website.

“With Pokémon GO, you’ll discover Pokémon in a whole new world—your own! Pokémon GO allows you to find and catch more than a hundred species of Pokémon as you explore your surroundings.”

Sarah Paulus, 13, was sitting on the green Thursday, cell phone in hand, looking for Pokémon with several others.

Confirming speculation that this new game is getting the younger generation out and about, Sarah said  she might otherwise be sitting in bed on that hot summer afternoon watching television.

Instead she and her friend Skyler Santarcangelo were sipping the fresh air and tossing virtual balls at Pokémon in downtown Milford.

“And I might be taking a nap,” Skyler, 13, added.

Matt Paulus, 18, was on the scene too, quietly sitting on a downtown bench, eyes on his cell phone. He guessed the new craze is popular with a range of ages, 10 to 30: A lot of “college kids to middle school kids,” he said.

This was just one group of residents and one location where people could be found in Milford looking for Pokémon and Poké Stops this week. They were also at the beach and along the Silver Sands boardwalk. Nate Santarcangelo, 8, said Eisenhower Park was a good game spot, as are city monuments and historic buildings, like City Hall and the churches.

The game grew so popular so fast that in recent days law enforcement agencies have issued safety tips for Pokémon players, advising them not to play alone and to stay alert while they are staring at their mobile devices.

And some businesses jumped into the action, like T-Mobile. According to the T-Mobile Newsroom, which announced Friday it will offer some giveaways and bonuses connected to the Pokémon Go craze, “Since Pokémon Go launched July 6th, the mobile game has raced past the likes of Facebook and Twitter on the app charts, already attracting a record-setting 21 million daily users in the U.S. alone.”

T-Mobile called the game “ a certifiable global phenomenon.”

Other institutions are tapping into the craze too. Danielle Valenzano, Milford Children's Library assistant, is signed up to attend a library seminar in Middletown about Pokémon Go. She said plenty of children have been in the library looking for Pokémon, and there have been numerous sightings among the library’s books and other collections.

She clicked on her cell phone and pointed. “Look, there’s one right there,” she said, pointing toward the circulation desk, where there floated an image of a Venonat, which in Poké world is a poison bug. She captured it.

“Which ‪#‎Pokémon‬ will YOU find at the ‪#‎library‬?” Valenzano wrote on the library’s Facebook page. “These were all captured today in our children's department. Out playing? There is a ‪#‎pokestop‬ in our driveway!”

A Poke Stop, for the less informed, is where one goes to load up on stuff.

According to a site called Heavy.com, “New Pokémon Go players may find their gameplay grinding to a halt early on when they begin running dangerously low on items. The game gives you a certain amount of Poke Balls, eggs, coins and incense as progress is made, but once you run out, it’s up to you to keep your inventory stocked. Where do you go to do this?”

The answer is Poke Stops, real-life locations to stock up on these virtual supplies, such as parks, shopping malls, churches, “and basically any sort of tourist attraction,” Heavy.com advises.

Valenzano praised the game, saying it gets people out and around together. “I have friends in their thirties and they’re out looking with their kids. It’s a multi-generational activity,” she said.

Valenzano is hoping to offer some Pokémon Go related events at the library in the fall, like treasure hunts, “something without devices, for the younger kids,” she said.

Back on the Milford Green, Chris Santarcangelo said he’s been playing a game called Ingress for three years, and he described it as a precursor to Pokémon Go, sharing similar points of interest.

A website called Geek and Sundry offers tips from Ingress  players: “First and foremost, remember that it’s easy to get lost in the screen. We’ve all forgotten where we are or tried to cross a street while playing the game. Don’t do it. Be aware of your location and the potential dangers around you. Traffic is probably the biggest thing to watch out for when chasing down monsters on any street, but there are other things to watch for you don’t even think about until you’ve decided to dedicate a good portion of your awareness to an addictive game.”