Waldo has been to outer space, the beach, other worlds and back in time. Now he's hidden somewhere at more than 40 businesses in Naperville.
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The promotion challenges shoppers to spot the well-known but always elusive character wearing his red-and-white striped shirt and glasses at locations including AnaBanana Kids, Cookie Dough Creations, Luxe Cabinetry Design and The Irish Way.
Launched last year when the fictional character created by London illustrator Martin Handford turned 25, the "Where's Waldo? on Main Street, USA" campaign celebrates the "uniqueness, fun and strength of community," said Becky Anderson, owner of Anderson's Bookshop and a former president of the American Booksellers Association.
Anyone who's up for the challenge has until July 31 to find Waldo in as many locations as possible, picking up an "I found Waldo at ..." card each time. Waldo hunters first must stop at Anderson's, 123 W. Jefferson Ave., for a list of participating businesses, said Anderson's spokeswoman Candy Purdom.
"Because there's no school, I think it's fun for the kids to have this little project, and it's something families can do together," Purdom said. "It's just a fun way to get to know the community."
Those who discover Waldo in 16 or more businesses, many of which are located in the city's downtown, will win prizes and an entry in a July 31 contest for grand prizes including a complete six-volume set of Waldo books, a Waldo poster book and a Waldo postcard book, Purdom said.
Participating businesses see the Waldo promotion as a simple, lighthearted way to draw customers to their sites, said Kris Hartner, owner of Naperville Running Company at 34 W. Jefferson Ave., where Waldo is tucked away among neon athletic tees and more than 200 pairs of bright running shoes.
"I think it's important to do anything that drives traffic to the downtown," he said. "Plus it's just fun for kids. Most of our customers that come in shop as families."