Pokémon Go Event To Raise Money For D.A.R.E. Program

The cowboy statue is a Pokestop listed as "sad cowboy." We found a snake (Ekans) in his boot, and caught it!
(Gillette, Wyo.) If you know what Pokémon Go is, you might want to skip ahead here to the photo of the Clefable.
For those who haven't downloaded the app or even heard of it, Pokémon Go is a smartphone game based on the 90s video game and animated series Pokémon. The new game relies mostly on being able to catch "pocket monsters" around your town. It's a feat which is accomplished by visiting a "Pokestop" around your neighborhood to re-supply your Pokémon catching tools. (Pokéballs, mostly.)
Gillette is set apart from other rural towns in that its multiple public art statues along 4-J Road and Gillette Avenue are all considered Pokéstops, meaning the city is far more active with Pokémon players than other cities of its size. Community and Governmental Relations Manager Patti Davidsmeier had seen the increase in activity downtown lately but didn't realize it was part of the game.
"I really don't know a lot about it, but I wondered how they decided on [Pokestops]. That's great that it's Mayor Art Council sculptures," Davidsmeier said. "What a great way to bring attention to our artwork, that's awesome."
The Pokestops downtown are lit up with "lures" all the time, even when there's no sponsored event going on.
Certain areas are also designated "gyms" for the game -- places where people can battle it out with other game players to "claim" a landmark for their team. The winner can leave one of their Pokémon there until someone else beats it, meaning "gyms" around the city are often safe places for players to meet. Multiple churches in town are gyms, for instance, as are places like the Rockpile Museum.
When we spoke to Rockpile Director Robert Henning in July, he had no idea the museum was on the game's global map. Landmarks with significance like the museum are also often designated gyms to bring more people to the area, a fact which delighted Henning when we explained the concept to him.
"That's great! People are welcome as long as they're respectful of the museum property," he told County 17. "If it brings people in and they realize what we have here, that's great."
This gym downtown is at The Chophouse, currently occupied by the red team, Team Valor.
Dungeons & Dugouts, the hobby shop on 3rd Street that specializes in card and board games, has been sponsoring a Friday night Pokémon Go event for the past four weeks. Co-owner Jessie Studle told us that it only costs the store about $20 to buy "lures" -- which are just what they sound like, ways to draw Pokémon to your location -- to set at all the landmarks along Gillette Avenue.
In exchange for that cost, the event brings hundreds of more people in to their store who didn't know they were there before. Last week two hundred people showed up to the event, something Studle says she's going to continue until it stops being popular. The shop doesn't lay their own lures until 10 p.m., the official start time of their lure drop event every Friday (because they have events going on in the store until that time.) Studle says people have been taking it upon themselves to change the parameters of the meet.
"At 8:30, 9 o'clock, it's already full of people. They start showing up early and it'll go from 9 p.m. until 1 in the morning," she explained. After the lures left early by others expire (they only last for a half hour,) the store will renew them. "We're usually open until about midnight, but after it slows down around then, there will still be 30 or 40 people around."
Another Pokémon gym is the AVA Art Center on 2nd Street. 2nd Street has lots of gyms, like the Rockpile Museum and Fire Station #1.
We asked Studle what gave her the original idea for a Pokémon Go party every week.
"My kids love it," she laughed. "They're so in to this game, and to be honest, my husband and I will get in to it just as much. We'll walk around for hours around town playing."
Groups of people spanning many age ranges can be seen walking together along Gillette Avenue. Kids being pushed in strollers and dogs being walked at the same time aren't an unusual occurrence, either. Studle says it's a great way for families to get out of the house together. For those who are concerned about the late hour of the Friday meets, she says it's a safe environment for their kids to be, within the group.
"It's amazing how many families come and walk up and down Main Street together," she said. "You can talk to people you may have never talked to or have never met if it wasn't for a phone app."
In its second week in July, the Lure Drop on Main Street had over a hundred participants.
This week's event, however, is going to be a little different. Studle's parents are active with Gillette's Fraternal Order of Eagles, also located downtown on 3rd Street. Eagles Auxilary member Konnie Wayne has selected the Pokémon Go event to put on a Hot Dog Feed.
"I've really noticed over the last few weeks that it seems to be a nice, safe, sober activity," said Wayne. She plays the game herself, with her three kids, who are ages 16 to 23. "They grew up playing Pokémon, so we were all really excited to see Pokémon Go. It's the most activity I've done all summer."
Three dollars will get you a meal with a hot dog, chips, and a drink, and 100% of the proceeds will benefit the local D.A.R.E. program. They're hoping to raise at least $200 for D.A.R.E. with the cookout that will be right outside of the store on 3rd Street.
Also available at Dungeons & Dugouts will be a special raffle. Over the past month there have been separate raffles each event at the store for a $25 gift certificate. This week they'll take the leftover raffle tickets from previous weeks, plus new ones they sell tonight, to draw for a $50 gift card. One hundred percent of the proceeds for that raffle are also going to D.A.R.E. You can buy raffle tickets for $1 apiece at Dungeons & Dugouts (107 E 3rd St., next to the old cowboy mural -- now the new buffalo mural -- which is also a Pokestop.)
Officially the lure drop starts at 10 p.m. tonight, but there will be plenty of people out on Main Street before that. The hot dog feed starts at 10, and the raffle draw is at 11. If you want to stop by but don't know how to play, there are people who are on site that will show you.
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