HAWTHORNE — This month, “Where’s Waldo” isn’t just a challenging picture book. It’s a competition, and prizes are at stake.
In celebration of the elusive character’s 25th birthday last September, Candlewick Press is teaming up with the American Booksellers Association and 250 independent bookstores across the country for the Where’s Waldo campaign, which encourages communities to support local businesses.
Throughout July, Waldo figurines will be hidden inside the businesses and seekers who find a figurine can get their “Waldo passport” stamped in the location they found it.
“The kids just love it,” said Donna Torresca, owner of Sprinkles Ice Cream & Yogurt. The parlor is one of 24 local businesses participating in the campaign, all of which have Waldo passports available for pickup. “It’s about supporting local businesses, but the kids have so much fun doing it. They need something to do in the summer when they’re not in school,” Torresca said
Co-sponsored by the Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce, the Hawthorne Green Team and Well Read Books, the campaign culminates in a grand prize drawing at 6:30 p.m. on July 31.
The first 125 seekers who find at least 10 figurines can bring their passports back to Well Read to collect an “I Found Waldo” button and a $1-off coupon. Those who find 20 or more figurines are entitled to the button and coupon, as well as an entry in the grand prize drawing.
While most of the prizes are being kept secret until the grand prize drawing, one of the top prizes is a six-volume deluxe set of Waldo books.
“The kids are having a blast,” said Mary Ann Skees, who owns Well Read Books with her husband. “It’s hilarious to watch them. They can’t get enough.”
According to Skees, each participating business donated at least two prizes for the grand prize drawing, so at least 40 to 50 participants have the chance to win prizes.
Skees added that while she has noticed an increase in traffic through her bookstore since the campaign started on July 1, there has not been an increase in sales.
“That’s OK,” she said. “The campaign is about getting more of a flow in and out of local businesses. It’s main purpose is to promote ‘shop local.’ People might spend money, but they might just go in stores they haven’t been to before, which is good, too.”
The term ‘shop local’ encourages residents to purchase everything from food to clothes in local stores to support their communities.
“Where’s Waldo” is the creation of English illustrator Martin Handford, whose books have been translated into 18 languages. There are more than 58 million Where’s Waldo books in print worldwide.
*This story was originally published in The Record.