Pokemon Go players swarm Lake Park

If you were to have taken a stroll in Milwaukee’s Lake Park on a July evening last year, you might have encountered a few couples walking hand in hand, a family pushing a stroller and maybe some kids playing catch. When TODAY’S TMJ4 strolled through Lake Park on Thursday evening, we encountered a gigantic posse of people playing Pokemon Go. There were hundreds of them walking, running, yelling to each other and catching elusive Pokemon.

The mobile game is less than a month old and it has already shattered download records. 12-year-old Nick Leverenz loves playing the game. We asked him if he thinks the Pokemon game is addictive.

“Yea, it can be,” Leverenz said, a shock of blond hair falling across his brow as he peered down at his phone. “Especially when you first get it, you want to try and catch them all!”

While youngsters like Leverenz  are focused entirely on the game, for others the exercise is an opportunity to socialize. Miles Perkins, a recent graduate of Shorewood High School and a basketball standout, acknowledged that he had his eye on the ladies.

“Any chance of meeting women when you’re playing Pokemon Go?” I asked him.

“Well yea,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders. “No doubt. You see all these females out here right?” There’s a lot of women out here that you can meet.”

Nina Kearn, mother of three, was out playing with her kids. We asked her what she sees as the appeal of the popular game.

“I get to go out with my kids,” she said with a knowing smile. “Walk around outside, just not be all by yourself all the time. Me, I’m a mom so I always do mom things. It’s something that you can do with your kids, get outside, you meet new people. You get lots of exercise. It’s great. It’s amazing fun!”

Aurora Ross, a Milwaukee native and Duke University student is having a blast meeting new people in her hometown.

“I’d say it’s a very social event,” she said grasping her smart phone. “People look down on it, or think it’s bad. People are going out at night in places they’ve never been before. But honestly, it’s some of the best people in Milwaukee that I would have never met before that I’ve met here.”

Surely there are cynics who believe the game is just another excuse to disengage from life with one’s nose stuck in their phone, but enthusiasts see the game as a great, growing outdoor party.

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