This summer marks the seventh year the local bookstore Inkspell has participated in the Find Waldo Local challenge. People of all ages are exploring the community in search of fictional literary character Waldo, who is hidden in shops and businesses all around Half Moon Bay.
Candlewick Press, publisher of the popular “Where’s Waldo?” series, sponsors the nationwide event with the American Booksellers Association. For the last seven years Inkspell has been chosen to be part of the fun.
To participate, readers head to Inkspell and pick up a passport that contains the names of 25 local businesses. Participants then go to each of these establishments and try to find a Waldo figure hidden in the store or office. If they find Waldo, they get a stamp in their passport.
“We run off about 2,000 passports and they go out all over the place. We encourage kids, adults, seniors, everybody to play,” said Inkspell owner Cindi Whittemore. “It’s a great way to get into stores that maybe you never really went into but that you’ve meant to. Now you have an excuse to visit them.”
Once participants find 10 of the 25 Waldos, they bring the passport back to Inkspell to claim a prize. If participants get at least 20 of 25, they are invited to the prize party on July 31 when participants can win prizes and gift certificates donated by local businesses. Every year, Candlewick Press donates a complete library of the “Where’s Waldo?” books to the drawing.
Everyone who attends the prize party is guaranteed something. In recent years, about 250 people have attended the prize drawing.
Usually, about 1,200 of the 2,500 passports come back to Inkspell. “We typically give out about 2,000 passports but we haven’t been seeing them all come in like we usually do,” said Whittemore. “Maybe people are having a later start this year.”
“I think it’s a great way to link reading to the community. I know my son is just excited when he goes into a store and sees Waldo,” said parent Scott Murphy. “I think it’s a way of bringing things together. We’re excited to participate in it.”