GLENS FALLS — On a typical Saturday afternoon, three or four people might stop in to see the art at LARAC, officials there said.
But this Saturday, more than two dozen people came in, drawn by a promotion in which galleries on the new Arts Trail in downtown Glens Falls welcomed Pokemon Go players.
Many of the arts-related establishments are Pokestops or Pokegyms, or near one. At those locations, players can place a “lure” that draws many Pokemon to the site.
So arts marketer Kate Austin-Avon posted flyers announcing that she would place lures along the Arts Trail for two hours Saturday. To encourage players to actually look at the art, anyone who took photos of a Pokemon inside one of the locations could enter a contest to win a $25 gift card to Samantha’s Cafe.
The event brought dozens of people to the art galleries and garnered rave reviews from the players.
It started slowly. A crowd of players gathered outside LARAC, battling each other’s Pokemon but hesitating to walk into the building.
Finally, LARAC worker Laura Brown propped the door open and marched out to the crowd.
“Hey, Poke people!” she called.
She told them it was free to come in, and that they were welcome to play Pokemon Go in the air-conditioned gallery.
Immediately, more than 10 people walked in. For a few moments, their eyes were glued to their phones, tracking the battles in the Pokegym that LARAC hosts.
Then they were drawn to the art.
“I love how the blood is done with that red thread,” said player Jeff Lippy of Glens Falls, looking at a portrait done in thread, sewn by Patricia Dolton. “That’s awesome, actually.”
He and his friends loved the art.
“I was going to come in,” he said. “I think it’s a great promotional idea.”
Brown began giving impromptu tours, explaining the artistic methods on display. Players eagerly walked through both rooms of the gallery.
As the first group left and more players trickled in, Brown grinned with delight.
“That was really neat. They actually liked looking at the art!” she said.
And she loved having a crowd in the gallery.
“This is too cool!” she said, handing out ice pops that some players chose based on the color of their Pokemon team.
But the event had some growing pains. Some of the venues were closed, including NorthCountryARTS, and there was nothing particularly art-like going on at some of the stops. Glens Falls Civic Center was open, but empty, as was Charles R. Wood Theater. At Crandall Public Library, some Pokemon players did not know there was art upstairs. Without a sign to guide them, they walked in, looked around and left.
Austin-Avon, the organizer, was frustrated that some venues were closed and others hadn’t taken advantage of the promotion by putting up displays.
But players said they hoped this would be just the beginning of promotions involving the game. They weren’t discouraged by the hiccups at all.
“It’s definitely a nice way to walk around downtown Glens Falls with the kids,” said Jennifer Islas of Queensbury.
Her kids said that if she had proposed a walk in Glens Falls in 90-degree heat before the game, they would have begged to go swimming instead.
But this time, they were thrilled. As they searched for Pokemon, of which there were plenty because of the lures, Islas enjoyed whine-free time with them on a walk.
“It’s nice to be with company, just getting outside with the kids,” she said.
Another Queensbury family came out in hopes that the lures would attract Pokemon they didn’t have yet.
“We both like Pokemon,” said Amber McNally of Queensbury, who was walking with her 5-year-old son Hunter. He was dressed somewhat like Ash, from the TV show. They took turns using her phone to catch Pokemon.
“It’s something we do together, just the two of us,” McNally said.
A group of young adults who have played the previous Pokemon games also came out for the promotion, even though one of them isn’t playing Pokemon Go because it involves so much walking.
“I’m way more into the DS games,” said Joseph Nichols of Glens Falls, referring to the handheld Nintendo game system. “It’s in my house and I don’t like to move.”
But his friends in a large online Pokemon group love the game, and so they’ve organized many walks.
“We’ve been getting together a lot more,” he said. “We don’t have to sit on wifi and voice chat. We have a reason to meet up.”