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Thousands flock to campus to catch Pokemon

Audrey Carpenter

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Andrew Baker points out pokestops on the Pokemon Go app. Photo by Audrey Carpenter

Andrew Baker points out pokestops on the Pokemon Go app. Photo by Audrey Carpenter

With the Pokémon theme song setting the mood, hundreds of people crowded around the Osprey Plaza Friday night as they prepared for the start of UNF’s Pokemon Go tournament.

UNF College of Computing director Dr. Sherif Elfayoumy worked with graduate students to put the event together. Nearly 2,200 people registered online with an estimate of 4,000 actually in attendance.

“We didn’t plan for this many people to come, we didn’t expect it would be that kind of turnout,” Elfayoumy said. When planning the event, Elfayoumy and his team estimated that about 150 people would attend.

Although UNF was swarming with young and old alike, Pokemon Go fanatics and new players came together to travel across the land (or at least the central UNF campus). There were 40 pokéstops and each had active lures so trainers could catch ‘em all.

UNF student Andrew Baker, level 23, has been a big fan of Pokemon ever since he was a child. He enjoyed seeing people of all ages out playing the game just like him.

The Rhoads family takes the Florida heat, and Pokemon Go, very seriously. Photo by Audrey Carpenter

The Rhoads family takes the Florida heat, and Pokemon Go, very seriously. Photo by Audrey Carpenter

“Honestly I’m here just to catch more Pokémon. . . but the tournament is something I could possibly see myself maybe winning,” Baker said.

One family from Ponte Vedra came prepared for the heat. Alison Rhoads, level 10, said she is addicted to the game.

“I really like how it brings people together,” she said.

Her father, Ted Rhoads, said the event was “like going to a watering hole or a favorite bar, where you’re all into fishing or surfing.”

Many trainers said they just wanted to catch more Pokémon, but some came to win.

Derek Moser has been playing the game since day one. He laughed as he mentioned he was a member of several Pokemon Go groups on Facebook. At level 25, Moser’s goal is to be the best.

His advice for newbies: mass evolution.

Ashley Hovatter first started playing Pokemon Go in Australia. Photo by Audrey Carpenter

Ashley Hovatter first started playing Pokemon Go in Australia. Photo by Audrey Carpenter

“Once you get to the level where you get a lucky egg you wanna evolve as many Pidgey’s, Rattata’s, and Weedle’s as you can,” Moser said. “It will boost your XP.”

Ashley Hovatter, a UNF alumni, level 23, said she started playing the app when it was released in Australia.

“I think it’s great that everybody’s out in a safe place,” she said. “It’s a little hot but it’s nice to get out.”

At the end of the tournament, Cory Carter was the maze gym winner. 

Aaron Cook caught an 1871 CP Vaporeon to win the CP levels battle. Jason Toney came in second place with a 1559 Vaporeon, followed by Dillon Crawford with a 1546 Pinsir.

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact editor@unfspinnaker.com.

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Thousands flock to campus to catch Pokemon