Pokémon characters take over famous graveyard
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The Graceland Cemetery is being haunted.
Not by famous architect Louis Sullivan or boxer Jack Johnson — some of the notable people buried there — but by dozens of Pokémon creatures.
Jensen Allen, an administrator at the cemetery, said she opened the wildly popular app Pokémon Go to find the creatures dwelling on cemetery property.
“Cemeteries are a big hub for Pokémon Go, we found out,” Allen said. “I downloaded it on my phone to see what the hype is all about. There’s probably about 30 Pokémon that are in our cemetery.”
The cemetery isn’t the only odd place people are poking around for Pokémon, using the augmented reality game that was released last week.
Pokémon and PokéStops — where items to catch the creatures are collected — are also appearing at churches, hospitals and museums.
In Chicago, they’ve been sighted at the Vietnam Memorial Plaza and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
So far, the influx of Pokémon trainers hasn’t caused problems at Graceland Cemetery.
“We have had a lot of people in here playing it. None that anyone has complained about; none that has caused any trouble,” Allen said.
A memorial service scheduled for Thursday will put that to the test.
“At worst, someone’s going to walk through it not knowing what’s going on,” said Allen. “We’re worried ourselves that people may not be alert and may trip over a monument or a marker while they’re out playing it.”
Despite the smooth experience to date, Allen has looked into ways to get Graceland Cemetery off the grid. She said it seems only the game’s developers can remove locations.
Pokémon Go’s support website has a form to submit a request and report game locations that are inappropriate or situated on private property. The company couldn’t be reached for comment.
In the meantime, if the gaming becomes an issue, the cemetery’s status as private property and its “no recreational activities” sign give workers the right to ask people to leave at any point.
Then, the challenge would be distinguishing players from people looking at the cemetery’s self-guided tours, which provide information about distinctive trees and celebrities in the graveyard.
In Washington, D.C., The National Holocaust Museum has made headlines for its problems with Pokémon, but visitors to the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie haven’t raised any red flags.
“We are fortunate that we have not had any issues, but we feel the same way that the U.S. Holocaust Museum does,” said Mary Gold, the museum’s vice president of marketing. “We ask the public, as well, that they would be respectful and not be playing a virtual reality video game in the museum.”
Like Graceland’s Allen, Gold asks people to be conscious of their surroundings.
“It’s combining the best of the real world with the virtual world,” she said. “I understand the fascination, as long as they keep the context that it’s a game and you need to be mindful of where you’re playing.