There are a ton of Pokémon wandering Lower Bucks, but if not for the explosive popularity of the franchise’s latest development, we might have never known.
Pokémon has gone through several evolutions over the last two decades. Born out of the beloved Game Boy video games, animated television show and card game, it has reemerged, this time in reality, with the development of Pokémon Go.
Across Lower Bucks, strangers are meeting to battle or collect the fictional creatures in public places via the mobile application. The creatures show up on players’ phone screens as they’re walking around, and one of the objectives of the game is to collect as many as possible.
In Lower Bucks, the Bristol Wharf has become a hub for Pokémon Go activity.
It’s a sight to see for sure — people of all ages, eyes glued to their phone screens, circling the park in groups.
“Everyone is just friendly and nice,” said Bensalem resident Ken Robbins. “People just come up and talk to you. You can approach somebody and just talk to them.”
Robbins was one of dozens of people playing Pokémon Go in Bristol Borough last Thursday. In the evenings, people gather there, sometimes in the hundreds.
Part of the reason for increased activity there is a cluster of Pokéstops, where players can pick up supplies to improve their game. The Pokéstops are concentrated along the path by the Delaware River. They refresh every few minutes, so you can walk from one end to the other continuously collecting supplies.
“When I was a kid, I used to be obsessed with Pokémon so now that I can walk around, interact with people and catch Pokémon at the same time, it’s fun,” said Chris Speichert of Bensalem. “I keep driving down to the wharf because it’s so popular.”
Speichert also recognized the community it creates. Over the previous two days, he reconnected with a high school friend, who had also been playing at the wharf.
The increased activity has raised concerns for Bristol Borough Police. Despite the friendly attitudes of most players, Police Chief Steven Henry said there have been some complaints from residents and a pair of altercations between players.
“It’s becoming a concern because of the crowd, and people not really paying attention to their surroundings,” Henry said. “Just be respectful of others and their personal space.”
There are other events at the wharf throughout the summer that draw crowds. Henry requested that residents be aware and respectful of them.
It’s so far unclear if Pokémon Go will maintain this level of popularity, but as long as there are Pokémon in Bristol, people will keep coming back.
“I’ve played every generation of Pokémon that’s been out,” Robbins said. “It’s my childhood and I kinda stay in it.”