If you aren’t a child of the 1990s, you may be unaware that this world is inhabited by creatures known as Pokémon. Downtown Lakeland
is positively crawling with them.
Thankfully, hundreds of Pokémon Go players, called “trainers,” are up to the task of capturing and training them to do their bidding.
Christopher Winters, 18, of Lakeland, began playing the game shortly after its debut. He has spent hours per day downtown because the area is so active.
“Downtown Lakeland is the best spot because people are dropping lures a lot,” said Eli Hedstrom, 26, of Lakeland. “There’s lots to do here. You can find eggs, get Poké Balls, and there’s no need to spend money on the game.”
Lures are Pokémon Go tools that can be earned or purchased, and then dropped to attract more Pokémon to the area.
Hedstrom began playing a week ago and has played in the downtown area several times, including twice in one day. Nighttime is a flurry of Pokémon Go activity.
This augmented reality game takes real geographic locations and makes them appear as if Pokémon have been spotted in the real world.
Players walk around and catch Pokémon as they go, and they can find and collect them everywhere. Downtown Lakeland is a hotbed of Pokémon Go activity, due to its numerous parks, iconic statues and other landmarks.
Players find Poké Stops, which are pinned to real locations where players can find useful items to capture Pokémon, such as Poké Balls. Once they’ve trained their Pokémon, they can take them to gyms to battle other Pokémon.
If you’re among the 21 million (as of July 11) daily active users playing Pokémon Go, be sure to visit these downtown locations (we’ll update this list as we learn of more locations):
Becky’s Hot Dogs jumped in early by offering a free drink with a hotdog purchase. The first day of offering the special, co-owner Jim Zook
gave away 20 drinks. On the second day, he gave away 40. On the third, he gave away more than 80. The numbers continue to grow.
Palace Pizza created a Poké Ball pizza.
Two Hens and a Hound began offering “Poké Prizes” to players who like and follow their Facebook page. When they realized a lure had been dropped nearby, they instructed Pokémon Go players to come in and give a password to receive a Poké Prize. They also put Pokémon images in their storefront window as a photo stop for players.
Got Candy & More began selling Pokémon Go- themed cake pops on Thursday and they sold out that day. Now they’re offering daily specials for players. Check the Got Candy & more Facebook page for details.
Florida Tropics, Lakeland’s new professional indoor soccer team, jumped on the bandwagon by setting up a table on Main Street prior to the July Thursday Squared Food Truck Rally and offering free phone charging for Pokémon Go players. They also dropped lures in the area to attract players.
While they had players’ attention, they gave away Tropics swag and encouraged people to enter a contest. The results were good.
“We had about 150 people enter the contest,” said Andrew Ross, general manager and vice president of operations.
Molly McHugh’s Irish Pub has dubbed itself a “Veteran Pokémon Player Drinking Center.”
My Office & More is offering free Pokemon Go training July 16 at 9:30 a.m.
The important thing to remember is that businesses need to act now to catch the craze while it’s hot.
Is your Downtown Lakeland business doing something fun to tie in to Pokémon Go? Let us know!