INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – What started as a way to enjoy a new game with friends has turned into massive downtown event.
It’s called the Indy Pokemon Go Meetup at White River State Park.
Pokemon fan Jake Waddell wanted to gather other people who enjoy the app Pokemon Go so he created an event on Facebook.
“Those couple friends steamrolled into a couple of their friends and then steamrolled into a couple of their friends, and then within three days we were at 1,000 people,” he said.
As of Tuesday night, the event page had more than 2,000 attendees with another 5,000 people interested.
At the park, you’ll find plenty of attractions, artwork, and activities. But there’s a new craze luring people there like never before.
“Are you guys playing Pokémon?,” Waddell asked to people who were walking along the Canal with their eyes glued to their phones. “Yes,” they happily replied.
It’s hard to the miss digital hunters as they scour the canal for water Pokemon, and it’ll be even harder this weekend.
“I would say that we’re just having just the biggest meet up that Indy’s probably going to see,” Waddell said. “It’s just going to be a huge gathering of nerdy fans coming out to play a game that everyone seems to be bonding over.”
It’s expected to be so big he got some professional help to keep it under control. “Without Indy Pop Con, I couldn’t have made it happen,” he said.
Shawn Smith, Marketing Director for Indy Pop Con, said he heard about the event when somebody sent him a tweet.
“Pop Con, we’re all about supporting all things pop culture and Pokemon Go is a pop culture phenomenon right now,” Smith said.
Indy Pop Con is handling the logistics of the event. Smith made sure it was insured and properly paid for since booking a large portion of the park is costly.
The event will include vendors, food and drinks, charging stations, and mapping to help guide thousands of gamers to all of the app’s features already at the park.
“I took a look around, there are Pokestops everywhere. There are gyms everywhere, there’s modules being dropped everywhere,” Waddell said with excitement while using terminology mainly app users understand.
“The vendors that are coming out are actually going to have to drop lure modules to kind of keep us in this togetherness place,” he added while standing in front of the Indiana State Museum.
That spot will be the main hub of the event but attendees will be encouraged to travel around the park, down the canal, and other places within walking distance.
“It’s really just a great social atmosphere. It’s going to be a lot of people that are just out here, engaging with one another, strangers coming together as friends, just to catch digital Pokémon,” said Smith.
Gamers were concerned about the internet connection since thousands of people would be using the game in the same area at once. But Waddell planned for that potential problem by having mobile company Sprint at the event.
“(Sprint’s) going to be setting up different types of hot spots there to help boost the signal. We’re also working on getting AIRAVES which are signal boosters,” he said.
The only issue he’s really anticipating is the challenge of trying to catch em’ all.
“With all the Pokestops, all the gyms, all the partnerships that we’re working on, it’s going to be a fantastic place to hopefully catch something really, really rare,” Waddell said.
The event is free, but booking a portion of the park is not.
Waddell set up a GoFundMe page to gather donations. His goal was to get $3,000 and so far they’ve raised $2,000. Any additional donations past their goal will be given to Extra Life, and non-profit that hosts a gaming marathon to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“Anything extra, anything like that’s going to go directly to charity. Nothing’s going into Pop Con’s pocket, nothing’s going into my pocket,” he added.
The event starts at noon and ends at 10 p.m. on Saturday. Parking can be found in the garage under the Indiana State Museum.
Waddell also coordinated a promotion with ride-sharing company Lyft to give users a discount if they plan to attend the event.