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Gotta catch 'em all on Fort Myers Beach!

Pokémon Go app sweeps the shores of the island and beyond

July 20, 2016
Melissa Schneider - Editor (mschneider@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Since first popping up in the App Store weeks ago, Fort Myers Beach has become one of the biggest hot spots in Southwest Florida to catch some of the best Pokemon creatures of the Pokemon Go world. The app is a GPS-based program that uses your coordinates for hunting and catching hundreds of Pokemon, where you then train to fight other creatures in "gyms" around town. These gyms, along with an insane amount of PokeStops (spots where you can catch extra in-game amenities), are lined up and down San Carlos Boulevard and Estero Boulevard eateries and establishments.

"I've been seeing more and more people wandering around over here playing the game," said RJ Snider, marketing director for Salty Sam's Waterfront Adventures. The perimeter of the business includes Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Bootlegger's Waterfront BBQ and the Pieces of Eight pirate ship, and Pokemon hunters have even caught some creatures out back near the docks and volleyball court. "We actually have three PokeStops down here."

Another big PokeHub along the back bay is Doc Ford's, who's also said to spin up some wild Poke creatures finding solace by the water's edge.

Article Photos

Nervous Nellie’s employees take a quick break to show off their Pokemon avatars: Ruben Frutos (Level 12), Abel Ruiz (Level 7) and Ashley Hadlock (Level 14). Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

Heading over the bridge, don't forget to spin the PokeStop at the Fort Myers Beach welcome sign, then hang a right at Bay Walk. The fountain is yet another PokeStop, where you'll often catch hunters stopping by to catch a few before heading elsewhere.

"If you hang out here long enough, you'll see that Pokemon just pop right up you don't even have to go anywhere," said Nervous Nellie's hostess Audrey Curada, who actually ended up deleting the app from her phone from it being so addictive.

The entire objective of the app's creation was to get gamers back out into sunlight to enjoy some fresh air and exercise, rather than be cooped up indoors playing games and this app has done exactly that. You'll see Pokemon hunters walking up and down the island streets with their GPS maps in hand.

Other huge north-end hubs are the Lani Kai and The Cottage. According to Roxanne Jakaitis, manager of The Cottage and Gulfshore Grill, "We have a few employees, as well as customers, who have quickly become obsessed with this game. I have seen people wandering the parking lot and Estero Boulevard looking for Pokemon. Apparently there are quite a few out there. At 1:30 a.m., driving home the other night, there were at least 10 to 15 people waking around staring at their phones. It's really unbelievable!"

Mike Ensor, with the Lani Kai, is eager to host a special Pokemon Go event at the busy island hot spot very soon, as several little Poke creatures have been hiding out there, too.

Going down toward mid-island, the Fort Myers Beach Library has hosted several Pokemon and their hunters, as well. Library director Dr. Leroy Hommerding says, "We've certainly noticed the Pokemon Go phenomenon at the library! Just this morning, two students were playing in the parking lot and last week, a group in the Library Commons was sharing notes on what they've experienced in the game. We know two patrons where the parent is playing with their teen."

Many groups around town form teams, complete with matching team T-shirts, and even Poke-Taxi services have been set up to shuttle hunters around town, allowing them to safely catch 'em all. (Check Facebook for local teams and taxi services.)

Moving on down south along the island, the infamous Pikachu was said to be hanging around in the CVS parking lot from time to time and stop by for a drink or two to wrangle in the several that show up at the Wyndham Garden/Pinchers Tiki regularly, as well as all over the Santini Marina Plaza.

With all this "wandering"?and meandering searching for lost Pokemon around the island, one would think several accidents, incidents or security issues have occurred since the app's inception, but according to Lee County Sheriff's Department public information officer Tiffany Wood, the Town of Fort Myers Beach has been very quiet in that regard with only one or two out-of-curiosity calls about wandering hunters.

"Thankfully, everyone seems to be heeding the direction of watching where they're going when they're playing," she said. "We encourage those playing to please be careful and aware of your surroundings; pay attention to where you're going. Please, no trespassing, don't drive and hunt, and please refrain from catching Pokemon around schools, churches and cemeteries at night."

Heading off island? Lakes Park has been said to be a virtual Pokemon breeding ground, with several hunters setting up public "lures" there to attract more creatures, and there are plans downtown (Fort Myers) for a Pokemon Go pub crawl this weekend, expecting to attract more than 1,000 hunters.

This game is one that has attracted (and hooked) all ages from kids and students to adults working fulltime in the medical field. It's a great way to help get the kids (and/or yourself) out of the house to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Fort Myers Beach (if our beautiful surroundings wasn't enough to get you out of the house, anyway), get some exercise and have fun while getting fresh air. Hunt safely, stop into our many great establishments to help drum up business for them while adding more creatures to your Pokedex and be sure to ask if they're offering any specials for Pokemon hunters; many local spots are planning to offer special incentives for those who play the game.

Now, back to the hunt gotta catch 'em all!

 
 

 

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