Pokemon Go drawing people to church and charity in Regina

There’s been a lot of hype about Pokemon Go benefiting health and business, but many in Regina are finding it can be used creatively for everything from getting people to church to donating to charities.

App being used for events at religious institutions, socializing and charity

People gather outside the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Regina to play Pokemon Go. (CBC)

Pokemon Go is going places in Regina.

There's already been a lot of hype about it being used to get exercise and boost business.

But many in Regina are finding it can be used creatively for everything from getting people to church to donating to charities.

A call to faith

Sue Breisch is an avid Pokemon Go player. She's also a minister at the Lakeview United Church.

Breisch said she thought holding a Pokemon Go gym night at her church would be the perfect people to check out the church.

"Church is about building community. When there's something that the community is interested in, we want to let them know that we are too," Breisch said.

Pokemon Go players have to head out into the community to catch Pokemon and hatch eggs.

The first gym night was held on Aug. 19 and featured Pokeball-themed cupcakes, gym battles and more. She said it won't be the last either, with plans to do several more in September and when the weather gets cold.

She said about half the people that showed up she had never seen at the church before. She's hoping it showed them that some of their preconceptions about church weren't accurate.

"It wasn't a prayer group."

One of the most memorable moments from the evening, she said, was when a church member in her 80s was shown how to play the app by two teenage boys.

"She just wanted to hear what it was all about because she's been hearing everyone talk about it."

Socializing 2.0

Another event that's been getting a lot of attention is Lure-apoloza.

This game is bringing everybody together.- Sean Ryan, Lure-apoloza

The first Lure-apoloza drew up to 1,400 people to 13th Avenue in Regina's Cathedral District.

Organizer Sean Ryan said he expected more like one or two hundred.  

"It was outstanding how many people decided to show up."

Ryan said the event was great for businesses, but the best part was the way people were interacting with strangers and getting to know the community.

"A lot of us don't actually get out. This game is bringing everybody together," he said. "Being able to socialize with groups of people we've never really thought about even talking to."

Sean Ryan is one of the organizers behind the Regina Pokemon Go event Lure-apoloza. (CBC)

Ryan has met plenty of new friends playing the game and at the event, and he's even heard of romance between Pokemon Go players blossoming.

"I've heard a lot of stories from a lot of friends that I've made that they've met their significant other playing the game," he said.

"Nothing for me yet."

The next Lure-apoloza is Sunday, Aug. 28, from noon until late along 13th Avenue. Lures will be set up at the Pokestops along the street to attract Pokemon to the area.

Pokemon for charity event cancelled

When Regina's Samantha Finnie started playing Pokemon Go, she quickly got the idea to marry people's love of the game with charity.

She was planning to hold the city's first Pokemon Go charity food drive on the Scarth Street mall downtown on Thursday.

The idea was to set up Pokemon lures and collect non-perishable food items for the Food Bank or small cash donations.

However, she found out Wednesday she won't be able to get the necessary permits in time and has since cancelled the event. 

Fans of the augmented reality game Pokemon Go hang out near Pokestops in the hopes of catching some rare Pokemon. (CBC)

Finnie, who is also an organizer for the 2040 Meetup group in Regina, said the event was the perfect way to merge the group's three core values into one evening.

"Some of the values come from meeting and connecting with people, giving back to the community, and getting some sort of physical exercise. So the idea just kind of came from that," she said.

Finnie said she hopes to reschedule the event in the future.

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition