Pokémon Go in the Parks

searching4pokemonThe creatures wandering through the parks with their heads down and their vision locked on their cell phones are not zombies. They’re searching for creatures you can’t see.

For the past week, hundreds of people have been seen wandering the trails of Fairfax County parks in a kind of mass trance, and then they’ll suddenly and randomly stop and start waving their cell phones about.

If you don’t know what’s going on, remain calm. They are sane. In fact, they’re having a blast.

A Nintendo game called Pokémon Go has gone viral, and casual players are joining rabid players in chasing the characters of this game in augmented reality. Millions of people have downloaded the game in its first week on the market. Simply put, the app causes virtual characters from the game Pokémon to appear on a virtual map of wherever you are standing, and from there the fun begins as you chase them, capture them and advance to further challenges through several levels of play. The characters can pop up anywhere. (I downloaded the game and immediately found three in my yard.) If you play the game, you’ll also want to use it to seek out Pokéstops, which are public places where you can download Pokéballs to throw at the Pokémon. Trust me, if you’re not familiar with the game, that does make sense.

Huntley Meadows Park intern Megan Massa points out that parks and other public areas are designated “Pokéstops,” places where people can gather to catch Pokémon. Some places are designated “Pokémon Gyms,” where trainers from three competing factions meet and battle each other. For example, the overlook on the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows is a Gym, and there is at least one Pokéstop in the park.

Virginia Commonwealth University student Laura Weimer of Springfield was playing the game this week at Hidden Pond Nature Center. “It’s kind of the dream that all Pokémon fans have been doing since the games originally came out,” said Weimer. “Everyone’s always wondered, well, what if Pokémon were in real life, and now they are.”

The Fairfax County Park Authority is happy to welcome players to the parks. In fact, we’re thrilled that so many folks are coming. While you’re there, take time to learn a little something about the natural and cultural resources surrounding you. Need some information about trails in the parks? Maps and more are on our web page.

So come play the game in parks. Please, a couple of precautions, though. Playing the game requires you to frequently look at your phone, so:

  • Be sure to keep looking around to see where you are. We don’t want you walking into a tree or a yellow jackets nest or bumping into other people.
  • Frequently check your surroundings because, in other parts of the country, some folks have been lured into situations where they were robbed.
  • Be sure to put safety first and look around if you’re on a street or in a parking lot.
  • Parks close at dusk. (Staff will chase out the Pokemon, then, too.)
  • Don’t let the game lure you into trespassing.
  • Please stay on the park trails even if the Pokémon don’t.

One final note – all of this is happening while we are running a selfie contest. Great timing. So while you’re in the park with your phone out, snap a few selfies and enter the contest.


Author David Ochs is the Manager of Stewardship Communications for the Resource Management Division of the Fairfax County Park Authority.




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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

1 thought on “Pokémon Go in the Parks

  1. Pingback: 5 Things to Know About Playing Pokémon Go in Fairfax County

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