Pokemon Go attracting players to NJ’s historic sites
History buffs across the Garden State are giving a big thumbs-up to the Pokemon Go craze.
“The characters are evidently popping up at our historic sites, and so as people are chasing these characters to try and capture them. They’re coming in and being exposed to New Jersey’s great history,” said Noreen Bodman, executive director of Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area.
She said “we’ve been attracting a lot more attention and a lot more visitors to our historic sites, to some of our state parks that have history in them. It’s a great way to say to these gamers, 'Come on in, and while you’re here you can learn a few things or take a tour, or just see one of our great sites that means so much to us.'”
She added guides have been welcoming the gamers in with open arms, telling them “if you want to come in for anything, come on in." The gamers are offered tours, and asked what they're finding as they go along.
She stressed “people are not being told. 'You have to come in for the tour.' But they do try to promote the history of their sites and why they’re so interesting, and we’ve had an uptick in tours here at the Old Barracks (in Trenton) from people who have come looking for Pokemon and decide to take the tour.
"For us that’s a great thing. We’re as curious as everybody else about the game."
Bodman admitted she found out that Pokemon Go characters have been placed at several museums and historic sites in Jersey from her young nieces and nephews, who are playing the game.
“I don’t know the whole rules of the game. Evidently after you catch so many you get something, who knows,” she said. “But I have been texting and emailing people, letting them know what’s going on. It’s been great. People are engaging in our history and it’s a non-traditional audience.”
She added many people who work at Jersey’s different museums and villages have actually become interested in the Pokemon Go characters and “are looking for themselves and then capturing them on a photo and then using social media to draw more and more people in.”
Bodman pointed out traditionally, most visitors who show up are very into history — but historic site staffers have been trying to expand their audience.
“We have a program called Meet Your Revolutionary Neighbors, and it’s individual stories about men, women, children, freed and non-freed slaves, and how they lived their lives,” she said
She said her nephew is thrilled that Pokemon Go characters are at different museums and historic sites, because he gets to hunt them down and meet all sorts of interesting people.
“He’s meeting surfers, guys in suits. He goes, 'We all meet and talk and chase Pokemons,' and I’m like, 'Yippee,'” she said.
The Old Barracks Museum, Trenton
Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville
The Jacobus Vanderveer House, Bedminster
East Jersey Old Town Village, Piscataway
The Van Riper-Hopper House, Wayne
Morristown Green, Morristown
Crossroads of the American Revolution was established by the U.S. Congress in 2006. It promotes a greater understanding of the Revolutionary era, and historical sites in New Jersey.
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