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Go have some fun

Editorial

It may turn out that the best thing to happen to downtown Suffolk in years is a cellphone video game.

During the past couple of weeks, it has been impossible not to notice the number of folks wandering the sidewalks of North Main Street and Washington Street, heads bent down and eyes glued to the screens of their cellphones.

For the uninitiated, which would be pretty much anybody over the age of 40, the attraction is “Pokemon Go,” an augmented reality game in which players track down cartoon characters that appear superimposed over the scenes a phone’s camera displays. Capture the characters, and they can be set off to battle in Pokemon gyms that appear in various locations.

The game harks back to the 1990s, when the Pokemon craze swept the nation, and it is especially popular among the generation that grew up collecting Pokemon trading cards as kids.

Whatever one might think of adults reliving their childhoods through a video game, one thing is sure: The latest Pokemon craze has been getting folks outside who otherwise might have spent their time on the couch in front of the television. Already, Suffolk Parks and Recreation officials have noticed an increase in people using Suffolk’s different recreational facilities, even if only to hunt for elusive cartoon characters.

It doesn’t take a big leap of the imagination to reckon that many of those Pokemon players will find themselves hungry while they’re out, that some might discover a great new shop during the hunt and that others might even find themselves in a part of town they never knew existed. Some churches are even hoping the Pokemon characters who appear on their grounds will attract visitors who will return on Sunday for a service, though one hopes they’ll keep their phones in their pockets until after the benediction.

Of course, every new hobby comes with a few warnings, and Pokemon Go is no different. Use your common sense when hunting your Pokemon. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t step into traffic, even for the rarest characters. And NEVER hunt Pokemon while driving. Seriously, we hate to think the warnings are necessary, but recent news reports suggest they might be.

Go have some fun if Pokemon is your thing. But look up from the phone once in a while. You may discover something even better than a Venusaur.