Date: July 22, 2017
Location: Chicago, IL
Favorite Memory: Enjoying a beautiful summer day outside walking around the city.
Pokemon GO Fest (2017) itself was a disaster, but at least it was a beautiful day out for walking around Chicago.
A bad omen for the event happened the day before, when I got my boyfriend’s wristband (the event’s ticket) stuck on my arm. That was a nightmare trying to get it off without using scissors. We looked up on the internet to see if anyone else had this issue and how they got the wristband off… well it was basically just moms posting about how their young kid got the wristband stuck on their arm and were in the same situation. So my bad decision was at the same level as a kid’s poor decision. Not one of my finest moments. We eventually got the wristband off without cutting it and circulation was restored to my hand.
The next day we took an Uber to the event at Grant Park. The driver didn’t know we were going to the event and was explaining that the crowd was for some “pokeMANS thing.” I got out of the car pretty excited, ready to capture any pocket monster foolish enough to come my way. So I was in my own world, wondering where the end of the entrance line was and I fell and scraped my knees before we even got into the event. As I was plummeting to the sidewalk wondering what the hell just happened I heard someone yell “trainer down.” Turns out there was a little pipe sticking out of the sidewalk, like someone was in charge of cutting down a Stop sign and did a shotty job by not cutting the pipe flush with the sidewalk. If you are walking down W Jackson Boulevard, watch out for rogue metal pipes.
People did come over and help me up. I will say, the Pokemon GO community is all very friendly and there’s a definite sense of camaraderie. I’m not exactly “outgoing,” but it was real easy to start a conversation with everyone at the Fest.
The event was such a disaster that we were all comp’d 1,000 pokecoins ($100 USD) for in app purchases as well as refunded the $20 event ticket. That was pretty awesome. I still have a buttload of those coins. I seem to be a lot more stingy when it comes to my pokecoins than my real money. Hmmm….
It took over two hours of waiting in line to even get into the event. Then you finally got in the event and couldn’t even connect to the game on your phone. To put it mildly, it was frustrating, but at least I live in Chicago. I felt really bad for the people that traveled there specifically for the Fest.
The most exciting thing that happened on the event grounds was when a butterfly randomly landed on Joe’s shoulder and just hung out for awhile.
You could tell where a new pokemon spawned because the handful of people that could actually connect to the game were all huddled around one area shouting things like, “OMG it’s an Heracross!” Eventually my phone connected and I was one of those nerds yelling in excitement while I captured a rare pokemon. Caught a few Unowns…no big deal.
Side note: I participated in a few raid battles around where I work and I would start to recognize some of the same people. Well there’s one person I dubbed “Tank Top” because he wore these really hipster tank tops all the time and would just brag about all his pokemon accomplishments. It was real annoying. There are 26 Unown pokemon, each representing a letter of the English alphabet. For Pokemon Go Fest there were 6 Unowns released in the area to spell out “CHICAGO”. Yea well, Tank Top claims he just stumbled upon and caught a 7th Unown…he also ALWAYS caught whatever the raid boss was. It was VERY suspicious how much good Pokemon fortune he had.
Side side note: I also have no respect for Spoofers. I may or may not have designed, printed, and placed stickers all over that say “Stop the Spoofing.” If you feel the same way perhaps you would be interested in showing your anti-cheat stance with these.
Niantic (the Pokemon Company) had to extend the radius of the event to lessen the bandwidth strain. Once we left the actual event it was a lot better. Both our phones were finally connecting for an extended period of time and we were able to walk around the city capturing some pocket monsters. People stuck in traffic would yell from their cars, “What monster are you catching?!”
It was a beautiful day out. The weather was perfect and it was nice just wandering around the city, from the lush parks near Lake Michigan, to the ethnic architecture of Greektown, before finally heading home to the West Loop. We passed the post office that was used as the Gotham bank in the opening sequence of The Dark Knight, crossed the Chicago River, and gazed at the owls (I always thought they were gargoyles) on top of the Harold Washington Library. I don’t think I’ll do Pokemon GO Fest again, but I look forward to more Chicago exploring this summer.