About 5,000 people showed up at Millennium Park on Sunday for probably one of the first massive Pokémon Go player gatherings since the game was released in the US a couple of weeks ago. Teenagers, artists, cosplayers, young adults and families with children spent a couple of hours or more chasing Pokémon near Cloud Gate, the silver sculpture — nicknamed “The Bean” — that is also a popular Chicago landmark.
Announced as “The first ever Pokémon Go meet up,” the event reached attention on Facebook during the last week, with 27K people “interested” in going. Participants could attend at no charge.
The event was started by Sam Guerrero, 24, a technician at a Chicago-based computer repair company who said he didn’t expect such a massive attendance. “I expected only friends, co-workers and family members, but it quickly spread.”
Volunteer Ryan Harvey, 27, said that members of Silph Road, an online network of Pokémon trainers, helped in spreading the word online. About 20 people volunteered at the event to distribute maps and programs.
Cristian Esmeralda, 21, showed up at the event carrying a huge Charmander plush toy he won at a mini-golf competition last year.
About 5.000 people gathered near “The Bean” in Chicago to play Pokémon Go in Millennium Park. The event was organized on Facebook.
Participants were mostly kids, teens and young adults. Players identify themselves as “trainers,” since the goal of the game is catching and training as many Pokémon as possible.
“Exercise? No. Diet? Nope. Pokémon Go? Yes!” said Ryan McClelland, 26, software engineer. For him, Pokémon Go is a way to lose weight. “I’ve lost 15 pounds since March and playing is a good excuse to keep going.”
Organizers handed out a safety guide for the event. From left to right, Sam Guerrero, 24, Ash Fedanzo, 31, and Ryan Harvey, 27.
Rapper Jim Histed, 30, wrote a song inspired to Pokémon Go with his group “Rapscallion.”
Demetrio Mascarenas, 22, built a replica of Pokémon Magikarp and showed up dressed with a carpet. “Pun intended,” he said.
Teams headed out to “battle” over the gyms in the park.
Teams Instinct, Mystic and Valor entered in a competition to own as many high-level gyms in the area as possible
A 15-year-old girl dressed up as Pikachu, by using an old Halloween costume. Pikachu was probably the most common choice for cosplayers.
“We are a bunch of people having fun,” said Ash Fedanzo, 31, a bar manager who volunteered at the event as a Crew member. “With all the negativity in the world, I think that playing Pokémon Go is unifying,” she said.
The event was a pretty peaceful gathering, but Pokémon Go is not immune to bigger events. The release of the game in France, for example, was delayed following the attack in Nice, IGN France reported today.
The Chicago event was only one of the events scheduled for Pokémon Go fans. There are already over 100 meetups for players, from Boston to Vancouver. And 6,500 people already confirmed for a San Francisco Pokémon crawl on Wednesday.
Featured Image: Lucia Maffei/TechCrunch