MILLENNIUM PARK — Thousands of Pokémon fans plan to meet in Chicago this weekend to go hunting together for cartoon characters "hidden" around the city.
Nearly 6,000 people on Facebook say they're going to the "first-ever" meet-up Sunday afternoon in Millennium Park for players of Pokémon Go, a new app-based game released last week. As many as 19,000 Facebook users also said they're "interested" in attending.
The free app letting users search for virtual Pokémon has exploded in popularity since its debut, with players renting boats or driving for hours to catch hard-to-find creatures as Nintendo, the maker of the game, has grown $7 billion in market value.
The app overlays digital Pokémon creatures over users' real-life environment using geolocation, prompting players to take to the streets and scan their surroundings with their phones.
The meet-up starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Bean.
"Make sure your phones are charged and if possible bring a power bank for your phone for back up," the event's organizer advised in the post.
The meet-up is led by Sam Guerrero, 24, of Little Village, who has played Pokémon with his mother since she bought him the original Gameboy games as a boy.
"I like Pokémon Go because it's an instant conversation starter," Guerrero said. "It brings people that would just normally play Pokémon inside outdoors."
The craze has also prompted U.S. highway officials issue warnings of “Eyes up, Poké Balls down," to motorists, while other local Pokémon Go aficionados are alerting fans to neighborhood crime as they search their surroundings, glued to their phone screens.
Everyone please be careful when playing at night. There's people being robbed by The Bean and Michigan Avenue.— Pokémon Go Chicago (@PokemonGOChi) July 11, 2016
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: