On Tuesday morning I stepped into The Briar Patch in downtown Bangor and immediately was assigned an important task. Gibran Graham, marketing manager of the children’s book shop, handed me a piece of paper and told me to get to work.
My job? Find Waldo.
Suddenly, the bookstore became exactly like one of the pages from Martin Handford’s books. Waldo was somewhere, hidden among the stacks of books, games and toys.
I wandered the shop, searching high and low for a tiny, 6-inch tall cutout of Waldo, a small, brunette character with thick-framed glasses, a red-and-white beanie and a red-and-white striped shirt — a figure that has become somewhat of a cultural icon.
I had a bit of trouble, and Graham gave me a hint.
“He’s toward the back half of the store. And make sure you don’t step on him,” he said.
Finally, after a solid five minutes and a bit more wandering, I spotted him — I won’t say exactly where, but you’ll find him with a smile on his face and a cane in his hand.
The Briar Patch is one of 25 locations in downtown Bangor where Waldo is hiding as part of Find Waldo Local 2016. The event started in the Queen City five years ago as part of a nationwide Shop Local event co-sponsored by Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association, which team up with 250 independent bookstores across the country, including The Briar Patch here in Bangor.
“At its core, it’s a shop local style event,” Graham told me. By rounding up local businesses to participate in the event, patrons of downtown Bangor are encouraged to get out and discover what it has to offer.
Bangor businesses, including Bangor Frameworks at 175 Exchange St., Good Soul at 60 Columbia St., Maine Jewelry and Art at 100 Harlow St. and many more, have hidden a small cutout of Waldo somewhere in their store, waiting for people to come in to try to find him. Even new businesses, such as Ivy and Lace on 173 Park St., Explore Bangor on 25 Hammond St. and Retro Swagger on 10 Harlow St., have joined in on the fun.
The event is for young and old, and by getting out into the community to explore, participants can win prizes. Finding Waldo in 10 different locations will win you a Waldo pin and a $1-off coupon for any of the “Where’s Waldo?” books sold at The Briar Patch. If you find Waldo at all 25 locations, you’re entered into a grand prize drawing, which will take place at a celebration on Saturday, Aug. 6, at The Briar Patch.
Those who would like to participate just have to stop in to any of the participating locations to pick up a Find Waldo Local in Downtown Bangor! passport, a sheet of paper with each business listed and a spot for whoever is tending the shop to sign. There is no charge to participate, and the hunt lasts for the entire month of July. Participants have until the last day of the month to find Waldo throughout Bangor and turn in their passports at The Briar Patch.
Graham even said patrons of Bangor may spot Waldo walking around downtown throughout the month, so keep an eye out for the famous children’s book character as you wander around.
In the meantime, pick up a passport and have some fun, because that’s what it’s all about.
Here’s a full list of the businesses participating in the event:
The Briar Patch
Bangor Historical Society
Bangor Public Library
Fork & Spoon
The Henry’s Bridal Boutique and Formal Wear
Ivy & Lace
Maine Cloth Diaper Company
Maine Discovery Museum
Maine Jewelry & Art
Maine Yarn & Fiber Supply
One Lupine Fiber Arts
Rebecca’s Gift Shop
The Rock & Art Shop
Sea of Cotton
University of Maine Museum of Art
West Market Square Artisan Coffeehouse