Local Businesses Team Up for Where’s Waldo Event
By Melissa McKenzie

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Local Businesses Team Up for Where’s Waldo Event

Waldo is hiding around the Mission City and it’s the job of Santa Clarans to find him.

Throughout the month of July, Santa Clarans have been tasked with finding Waldo–of Where’s Waldo? Fame–in 20 local businesses, getting residents out into the community and getting local businesses some extra exposure.

This year, Where’s Waldo? turns 30. Martin Handford’s books and drawings of the loveable lad in a striped red sweater and glasses have been translated into over 30 languages and 67 million books are in print worldwide. To celebrate Waldo’s 30th year, his publisher, Candlewick Press, is teaming up with 250 independent bookstores across the country for some hide-and-seek fun to encourage communities to patronize their local businesses.

Of those 250, Santa Clara’s Books, Inc. was chosen as a local event host, giving Children’s Bookseller Robin Stern the task of partnering with other businesses who wanted in on the joy of seeing participants search their stores for Waldo and his friend, Wenda.

Stern said she took into consideration the child-friendliness of each store, and setting out with her daughter in tow, Stern hand-delivered approximately 30 letters to local businesses. Initially she reached out to stores in the new Santa Clara Square, signing on Chase Bank, Comebuy Tea, Lula’s Chocolates, Sur la Table and Whole Foods Market. She then emailed the Santa Clara Library who was eager to participate and signed on all three of its locations.

“What I was hoping to do was tie together landmark Santa Clara establishments and smaller, lesser-known places to represent our community,” she said. “I love forming connections with our community, and I hoped this would accomplish that.”

In total, 19 businesses–more than any Books, Inc. location has been able to recruit in the past–agreed to join the Where’s Waldo? hide-and-seek, including Game Kastle, Illusive Comics and Games, Isle of Gamers, Kid to Kid, Mission City Creamery, The Off Ramp, Pizza My Heart on Bellomy St., The Starving Musician, TOGO’s Sandwiches on Lafayette St., See’s Candies and Iguanas Burritozilla.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Stern. “Employees who received the little Waldo were so excited to be hiding him, and when I visit and ask how things are going, they respond with happiness about the cute kids who came into the store and how they play hot and cold with them.”

Stern said some stores have given the seekers extra bonuses–like the manager at See’s Candies who gives each hunter five candies and Lula’s Chocolates allows Waldo’s finder to place him in his next hiding spot.

“The parents have responded so positively, too,” Stern said. “One family who found Waldo in all 20 places thanked us for giving them a fun way to explore the City, finding new places to visit. Many talk of buying way more than they expected at many of the establishments ... and it’s not just kids. We have had several adults filling up their passports as well, including many couples. Everyone is having so much fun.”

To participate, potential seekers can pick up a “passport” at Books, Inc., 2712 Augustine Dr. #120, and start searching. All participants who gather all 21 stamps will be entered into a drawing for a prize package of Where’s Waldo? goodies. Even those who don’t find all 20 Waldos–and one Wenda–are invited to a Where’s Waldo? party at Books, Inc. on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 2 p.m.