Mobile, AL — WKRG
The popularity of Pokémon Go is getting a lot of attention. Some are asking certain spots to be off limits. That includes Mobile Memorial Gardens. Timothy Claiborne may be the President of the gardens, but he’s also got a new part time job. With a smile, his employees have made him the chief of the Pokémon Patrol. He drove me around as we fiddled with the game and looked for others who were doing the same. Claiborne says people playing Pokémon are easy to spot. People who are supposed to be at the cemetery drive straight from the entrance to the plot they wanted to visit. Pokémon players meander and weave through the grounds.
Claiborne said the cemetery is for peaceful reflection as people visit loved ones. He said people aimlessly driving, walking around burial plots or driving with phone in hand creates safety problems.
“You’ve just got to control it and keep it away from funeral activity,” said Claiborne. While the game may be popular and fun the people who work here say it’s just not appropriate to play a video game in the middle of a cemetery. They compare the cemetery to a church.
“We expect the same kind of decorum in the cemetery, which should only be for the families that choose to have their loved ones placed there,” said Chairman of the Board at the Gardens Dick Pennington. The cemetery is a rich hunting ground of digital monsters and imaginary gyms. That’s why it’s attracted so many players. It’s also turned landmarks like this statue of Jesus into an animated pit stop for free online goodies.
“That’s just in no way to treat a statue of Jesus that you encounter as you enter the cemetery that’s not what it’s about,” said Claiborne. So how does a cemetery get turned into a Pokémon paradise? These are user submitted spots from an old game template.
“And the company with millions of hotspots around the world they’re basically just reviewing them and if they think it’s a relatively safe location they’re going to give the thumbs up and make sure it’s in the game,” said WKRG Tech Reporter and Pokémon Go fan JB Biunno. The cemetery’s put up signs in the hopes this fad fizzles fast. The staff at Mobile Memorial Gardens has sent a request to the game developer to be removed from the map. They’ve been told the request has been received at it’s under review.