- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 17, 2016

Magical creatures can be found in every corner of the National Mall, thanks to the augmented-reality Pokemon Go gaming app, which has become more active than Instagram or Snapchat.

Catching Pidgeys, Bellsprouts or superpowered Pokemon on parts of the Mall is encouraged, but some players are trying to nab the virtual critters at sacred sites, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery.

Though the Holocaust museum is featured on the app as a “Pokestop,” where players come to collect free items for the game, Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s director of communications, has deemed such activity there disgraceful.

“Playing Pokemon Go in a memorial dedicated to the victims of Nazism is extremely inappropriate. We are attempting to have the museum removed from the game,” said Mr. Hollinger.

The Holocaust museum and Arlington National Cemetery have officially asked visitors to refrain from using the app out of respect for the memorials. Gamers on the Mall agreed, saying there are some places that Pokemon trainers just shouldn’t go.



“You know in the Mall area, where the grass is and stuff and all that, that’s a great place to do it. But inside museums, not too much. Especially the Holocaust museum, you know, that’s something you need to [not do],” said Alec Kennedy, a student visiting from Louisiana who caught some Pokemon near the Washington Monument.

Alec came to the District with his family to visit his grandmother’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. For the Kennedys, playing Pokemon Go at the burial site of their relatives hits too close to home.

“Definitely a no-no at Arlington,” said Dillon Kennedy, Alec’s father from Louisiana.

Heather Shuker, a 39-year-old nurse from Pennsylvania, captured Pokemon in several museums and memorials on the Mall, including the National Archives, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History and even the National World War II Memorial.

“[We play] like on the elevator and just kind of in between exhibits, not standing in front of exhibits and being obnoxious and in the way,” said Mrs. Shuker.

Inside the World War II memorial, the Shuker family stopped for a break to catch some Pokemon. Two of them carried extra phone batteries to extend their playing time. The youngest child — 7-year-old Charlie — was clad in a Pokemon T-shirt.

“Pikachu, my shirt’s Pokemon [is my favorite],” said Charlie.

National Park rangers said playing Pokemon Go inside the war memorial is inappropriate and they encourage visitors to take the game elsewhere.

In fact, rangers are planning a Mall tour that will help gamers capture Pokemon and learn about history at the same time.

“While you’re visiting the National Mall, keep an eye out for our soon to be announced ranger-led Pokemon hunts and join a park ranger to learn about the monuments and memorials while you collect your Pidgey!” a post on the National Park Service’s Facebook page read.

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