Thousands expected for downtown GR Pokémon hunt

The Pokemon Go app (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Pokémon hunt taking over downtown Grand Rapids Friday night is already exceeding its organizer’s expectations.

“I put this together hoping I would get maybe 50 or 60 people and it’s just grown so out of control. I never expected this many people to come out,” said Sarah Hale.

So far, 5,000 people have signed up on Facebook to attend Hale’s event, dubbed “Downtown GR Late Night Pokemon Hunt.”

Another 7,600 people said they’re interested in the event, which starts at 9 p.m. in Rosa Parks Circle.

And local businesses are now cashing in on the Pokémon craze.

“Foot traffic has just been incredible,” James McCarthy, who works at The Dog Pit, told 24 Hour News 8 Friday.

The restaurant sits right across the street from Rosa Parks Circle, a popular spot for gamers. McCarthy said they ran out of food Thursday as the ‘Pokemasters’ kept pouring in. They will double staffed Friday night in anticipation for Hale’s event.

Slows BBQ also caught wind of Friday’s large gathering. They are now throwing a Pokémon Pre-Party.

“We have a red, a yellow, and a blue cocktail,” Ashley Horton, a staffer at Slows, told 24 Hour News 8. They’re offering drink specials and cocktails for the different Pokémon Go teams.

Some businesses, like Johnny B’z, are even spending money with the app to bring in more customers. They pay money to put out lures, which draw more Pokémon to an area and in turn, more players too.

“There’s so much foot traffic in this neighborhood anyway. It worked out great,” Johnny B’z general manager Kate Greening told 24 Hour News 8. “You can eat, drink, and catch Pokémon.”

Hale told 24 Hour News 8 she’s been in contact with Grand Rapids Police since Sunday.

“Public safety is my biggest concern for everyone. I just want everyone to be safe, behave themselves and have a good time,” Hale said.

GRPD Sgt. Terri Dixon said the department is not planning to step up patrols, but officers will be monitoring the area. Police are asking participants to be aware of their surroundings and downtown drivers to remain vigilant.

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