Pokemon Go — and its fans — take to the streets in s. Vermont

By Kevin Cudabac
2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

While you won’t see thousands of Pokemon Go players bumping into each other in front of the Vermont Country Store in Weston or swarming the Green in Chester, there are plenty of historical landmarks, unique shops and cafes in the region to keep the most avid players interested.

Sunday on the green with Pokemon

In the center is Daniel, 17, from East Lyme, Conn., with cousins Gali, 8, and Yalley, 12, both from Israel, playing Pokemon Go on the Green in Chester. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

For the uninitiated, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game that incorporates GPS technology in smartphones and tablets with the game concept that was obnoxiously popular in the 1990s, allowing players to travel around in the real world capturing and battling fictional creatures rather than sitting on the couch to do so.

Chester and the surrounding region is particularly adventurous terrain for this game, with historical landmarks, memorials and other unique locations designated as Pokestops that players must travel to to earn points and “supplies.”

You can join one of three teams in Pokemon Go. And most towns have Pokestops that players can travel to for supplies as well as “gyms,” which teams can take over or maintain by battling the creatures they capture. Although the virtual aspect of the game is as silly as it sounds, the real life interactions between teammates and rivals and the real life destinations involved give the game an intrinsic value normally lacking in video games.  You can learn more about Pokemon Go by clicking here.

Walking through Chester will bring you to a number of monuments dedicated to local soldiers who fought in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War in front of the shops and cafes such as the Southern Pie Company and the Free Range restaurant.

“The church next to us is a gym, so we’ve seen a big increase in people walking back and forth,” said Scott Blair, owner of Southern Pie Company. “I play with my 5-year-old son and we love it.”

On the hunt

From left, Yalley and Gali look at the screen while cousin Daniel checks out Pokemon on the screen.

Walk through Brookside Cemetery to the grave in memory of banker Benjamin Avery Park and his wife Ellen Augusta Twitchell Park, which features a statue that is inspiring in the daylight and quite spooky after dark. Ghost themed Pokemon are often seen in graveyards so keep an eye out for Haunters and Ghastlys. 

The Congregational Church has more resources to offer, and so will St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the First Universalist Parish in the Stone Village, as well as Chester Baptist Church. Churches and other landmarks and significant places tend to be PokeStops.

You can access a PokeStop at the suspension footbridge on School Street without crossing it, but why miss the chance of going across and possibly finding water based Pokemon? Offering a scenic view of the river and access to the other side, it reads “Destroyed August 1976, Rebuilt 1977.”

You don’t have to be from the Vermont to enjoy the game in the Green Mountains. On a recent weekend, cousins from three families from Connecticut and Israel who had rented a nearby house, were spotted on the Chester Green with a cellphone buzzing. Daniel, 17, of Connecticut, was showing his younger cousins, Gali and Yalley, the intricacies of the game. Daniel said the families were renting a house with nearby trails. “I love it here. There’s so much to do,” he said. “I love the mountains.”

If you hop back in your vehicle, a Junker Studio iron moose sculpture at the Artisans Gallery on Route 103 South is a stop. And right up the street, behind Green Mountain Union High School, the metal gecko sculpture on the wall is a Pokestop, and as is the Chester-Andover Family Center. Although a military helicopter that once stood behind the American Legion Auxiliary Post #67, across from the Artisans Gallery, has been moved to Brattleboro two legion members said, its former location at the back of the parking lot is a Pokestop.

After you have gathered your own menagerie of cartoon critters, try battling at one of the three gyms in Chester where members of the three teams fight to maintain control.

Sharon Tanzer, librarian at the Whiting Library at 117 Main St., had been unaware of the building being a Pokestop, “I see a lot of people looking at their cellphones while they’re passing by, but I really can’t tell you what it is they’re doing. We are a common stop for internet access so we see a lot of people stop for a little while to check their email.”

Although Chester, Ludlow and Springfield have the most PokeStops in the region, there are two in Londonderry — at the War Memorial and at the U.S. Post Office.

In Grafton, head over to Main Street and stop at the old fire house and the U.S. Post Office/Town Office.

PokeStops can also be found in Weston at the Civil War Monument and the Korean War/Vietnam Memorial, the Wilder Memorial Library on Lawrence Hill Road and, on Main Street, the U.S. Post Office and the Farrar Mansur House & Museum.

Wendy Herbert of Ludlow and son Reese Stark said they’ve bonded lately over Pokemon Go.  “I like to take walks, and they like to play video games,” Herbert said of her sons. “So it’s amazing for me. We do a drive around town to all the stops and then park and take a walk.”

Remember to pay attention to your surroundings as you play Pokemon Go. While walking, riding or driving, keep your eyes up instead of solely focusing on your phone screen. It will vibrate to alert you of wild Pokemon.

Shawn Cunningham contributed to this article.

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