Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay church, library, pizza place trying to 'lure' Pokemon Go players

Thunder Bay, Ont. church sets up Pokemon Go lures, offers refreshments and Wi-Fi.

The main goal is to connect with the community, they say

First Presbyterian Church minister Rev. Susan Mattinson said the church's outreach to Pokemon Go players is not a secret plot to get people to come to services. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

A Thunder Bay, Ont. church is among the local shops and services trying to "lure" Pokemon Go players to its establishment.

First Presbyterian Church is setting up lures — devices used in the game to attract Pokemon — on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and inviting players to stop by, take advantage of the Wi-Fi, charge their devices and use the washrooms.  The church is even offering refreshments.

But it's not a trick to get people to come to church, said Rev. Susan Mattinson, laughing.
Eat Local at Pappa Piccolino's Pizza has been selling to Pokemon Go players at local parks. Max Michieli holds a sign and some pizza.

"The motivating factor is to just make connections with people," she said. "I play the game also. I just [reached level] 16 last night, so I'm pretty excited about that, so there's a similar interest here as well."

Even church members who don't play the game see reaching out to players as a way to show that the church can be relevant and helpful to its neighbours, Mattinson said.

If anyone decides to come to a service, she said, that would be a bonus. 

Asked what she thinks God thinks of Pokemon, Mattinson laughed and said she doesn't know.

"When I think about this theologically, I think about how Jesus was very willing to connect with people where they're at, to enter into the communities that were already formed and to speak in a way that was relevant to those people," she said.

The challenge for the church is to figure out how to connect with people outside its doors, she added.

'Lots of critters' wandering around the library

Thunder Bay Public Library children and youth services librarian Laura Prinselaar said the library is working to be a community hub, which is why it's encouraging Pokemon Go players to come in and charge their devices and use the library's Wi-Fi. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

First Presbyterian isn't the only establishment in Thunder Bay trying to reach out to Pokemon Go players.

Eat Local at Pappa Piccolino's Pizza began selling pizza and drinks to players in local parks Monday night, and the response exceeded expectations, said owner Jim Stadey.

Staff sold hundreds of pizzas, he said, and planned to hit the parks again Wednesday.

The initiative is as much about celebrating people's new-found love of city parks as it is about making money, Stadey said.

"We're always really interested in finding ways that we can connect with the community and provide them with a benefit while allowing ourselves to succeed as a business, and we think that that sort of synergistic approach is the real way to do business in a city like Thunder Bay," he said.

Even the Thunder Bay Public Library is getting in on the Pokemon Go action, advertising its Pokemon collection on Facebook and encouraging trainers to use its branches as rest stops — where they can charge their phones and use the Wi-Fi.

"We're trying to be more community hubs. So the things that our community's interested in, we want to get involved too," said children and youth services librarian Laura Prinselaar. "And this seems like ... something we can offer the players that are getting into this game."

"There are lots of critters wandering around in here," Prinselaar added. "I've certainly caught a few myself."


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