ITHACA, NY – Leave it to Ithaca to combine the Pokémon GO craze with volunteerism.

Pokémon Go players have been the targets of derision by some who aren’t in on the craze. From the outside, players can appear to be just a bunch of geeks staring into the phones instead of watching watch happening in the world around them.

The fact that IPD planned a crackdown on jaywalking in response to Pokémon players being too focused on their phones to watch for traffic only added to that negative perception.

However, some Ithaca Pokémon Go players are bucking those stereotypes. On the contrary, they are being extra aware of their surroundings — making sure that the areas where players flock to stay clean and well kept.

For the uninitiated, the Pokémon Go game chooses a few notable real-world locations — local and historic landmarks, restaurants, civic buildings and so on — around cities and towns to become “Pokestops.” Players can visit these spots in person restock on in-game supplies. As such, players often end up congregating around these spots.

As local player Alex Dennis describes it, he had heard about Pokémon-related graffiti popping up in other cities. The idea of working to keep Pokestops clean from litter came up, and Dennis “just ran with it.”

Dennis provided bags, gloves and snacks to help in the cleanup, but said he excited at the enthusiasm with which people took to the idea. The group made a sort of unofficial pact to make sure that the Pokestops around Ithaca stay clean.

“After I had handed out a bunch of bags and gloves, one high school age trainer asked me if we were going to do it again tomorrow,” Dennis said. “I told him that there was nothing organized but I will continue to pick up around the spots I hit and he can too.”

“So many people were on board with cleaning up,” he added. “I hope that they continue to pick up any litter they see in the future.”

(Featured photo courtesy of Ithaca Pokémon Go group on Facebook)

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.