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Pokemon Go sends Northern Utah gamers outside and causes concerns

STANDARD EXAMINER – 7/11/16 – Northern Utah schools, parks, cemeteries, religious buildings and city government offices became gathering places for those who gotta catch ‘em all.

NorthToAlaska Unfortunately, like many other places in the country, this has caused fire officials, police officers and other government officials to issue warnings to those who get so caught up in the game app on their phone they forget about safety.

The free app, which came out Wednesday, July 6, uses a phone’s GPS and clock to make Pokemon appear on screens, allowing players to “catch” them, much like characters did in the late 1990s cartoon TV series. 

Weber State University social media editor Matt Gerrish said more than 100 people were wandering the campus looking for Pokestops (notable landmarks marked within the app) in the middle of the night. And some people were not watching where they were going, but instead staring at their phones, which caused a safety hazard.

Gerrish posted on WSU’s Facebook page the following warning, “Attention Pokémon trainers: Please watch the road if you are driving or walking around our campuses. That Pikachu may be cute, but it’s not worth a trip to the emergency room.”

North Davis Fire District posted on its Facebook page: “We are excited that our fire stations are so popular with Nintendo’s Pokemon game and who knows maybe some of us play the game, but please keep our driveways and parking lots clear of vehicles.”

Chief Deputy John Taylor acknowledged Monday firefighters spent a lot of time asking people to move vehicles from the driveways at the fire stations in Clearfield and West Point because they were blocking the paths of fire engines to leave the stations in case of an emergency.

“Citizens can’t interfere with our state of readiness,” said North Davis Fire District Chief Mark Becraft.

The game gets gamers like Mason Thompson, 16, of West Point outside to play for hours and exploring the outdoors.

Thompson, along with his friends, Jackson Lindell, 15; Maddie Lindell, 17; and Christopher Blackburn, 15; have traveled all over West Point on foot, on bikes and on skateboards searching for the Pokestops.

Thompson said he learned the game was coming out a year ago and has been waiting impatiently for it. He said he downloaded it onto his phone 6 p.m. Wednesday, as soon as he heard it was released.

Maddie Lindell said she understands the concerns agencies have because the gamers really “get sucked into it.”

Also local police want to gamers to know public parks are closed at 10 p.m. in most areas.

“We had extra patrols out on Saturday in the park areas and on the city streets because of Pokemon enthusiasts,” Layton Police Lt. Travis Lyman said.

Jensen Park in Syracuse also saw a lot of people out wandering around looking for Pokemon characters. On Monday, Chanda Sales of West Point took her three sons, Austin, 14; Jax, 8; and Asher, 6; on a Pokemon Go adventure for three hours at the park. There were other groups out there playing the game too.

Sales said, as a mom, she likes the game because unlike other video games, her sons have to go outside to play it.

“Many of the places are places where they can learn something too,” Sales said.

And what does she get from her sons for devoting three hours on Monday on the adventure?

“They’re going to do extra chores when we get home for me,” Sales said.

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