By Beth David, Editor
While neighbors of Fort Phoenix and other Fairhaven residents who frequent the fort are having a hard time accepting the onslaught of Pokemon Go (PG) players there, the players themselves simply do not get what the big deal is.
During the day on Monday, 8/8, about 75 to 100 people milled around the fort near the cannons, by the bunker, and in the big field near the parking lot. Almost all of them had cellphones and were looking at them.
Zach and Kiana said they have traveled to the Fort from Onset more than once in the past couple of weeks. They said the daytime was different than at night, when they have seen up to 600 people there at once, all chasing the elusive Pokemon.
PG is an electronic game (app) that people play on their phones. The game has “stops” and puts “creatures” at various stops for people to “catch” with their phones.
The app does not necessarily send players to certain geographical areas, players find out through talking to each other on Facebook groups, and other means. Then they go to the spot where the desired creature is and wait for it to pop up on their screen. If they catch a creature, they get points. Some creatures are worth more than others. People can stay in a certain spot and wait for creatures to pop up and keep swiping to get more points.
Zach and Kiana said they learned about Fort Phoenix through Facebook. They said everyone leaves peacefully when the police show up around 10 p.m. and signal them to go.
Riley, 11, and her cousin Tara, said friends told them about Fort Phoenix. They said they liked getting close to the stops and getting points.
“It’s on a timer,” said Riley. “You can’t keep hitting it. You have to wait, about three minutes [between hits]. That’s why people stay in the same spot.”
“I think it’s really fun,” said Madison, 17.
Tara, 26, said it gets them all out of the house and they make friends doing it.
“You meet a lot of people,” she said.
Derek, 27, from Fairhaven, said people are making a big deal over nothing. He said the game gets people out of the house away from their TVs and Xboxes, draws a diverse group of people who all get along over a common cause, and gets them all talking to each other. He got an iPad for his son, he said, so they can play together.
“There may be a few bad apples,” he said, but the game brings people together, instead of separating them.
He also said they are discovering place, like Fort Phoenix.
“I never knew there was a plaque on that rock,” he said. “I read all the plaques [because of PG].”
Michael, Justin, and Jeff sat with their backs up against the small cannon. They said they like the game because, according to Michael, they “get out and experience the world.”
Michael also said he learned about the memorials at the fort, too, because of the game.
McKenzie said she likes the game because “interacts with all kinds of other people.”
People she would never meet otherwise, she said.
“We’re not stuck in the house all day,” she said.
They both said they never saw any vandalism. They said that since the town added more trash cans, the site has also been very clean.
“It looks the same as it always did before,” said McKenzie. “Except it has more trash cans.”
Brianne and Kiya were sitting on a rock at the Fort, probably the only ones there not playing PG.
They were waiting for the lobster boat the Max & Emma, with Brianne’s father aboard, to come in. They said they thought there was some sort of re-enactment going on, until they realized everyone was looking at their phones. They both said the players did not bother them.
Maggie Harrison, however, said she was nervous and a little afraid of the players. She said she was fine with it until one night a 12-year-old threw a rock at her, twice, while she sat on a bench and he was on one of the boulders above her. To make matters worse, the young adult men who were with him made light of it, saying, “he’s only a kid.”
She also said she noticed a lot of younger children looking bored or running around unsupervised while their caretakers played the game, debunking the notion that it fosters more interaction among people.
Ms. Harrison said she has always gone to the fort after work, no matter the time of day, to clear her head after her shift.
Now, she will no longer go at night.