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Pokemon must go away from Biloxi Lighthouse area

A crowd gathers at the Biloxi Lighthouse on July 15 to play Pokemon Go. The lighthouse has become a popular spot on the Coast for Pokemon players.
A crowd gathers at the Biloxi Lighthouse on July 15 to play Pokemon Go. The lighthouse has become a popular spot on the Coast for Pokemon players. amccoy@sunherald.com File

A chapter is closing in the early days of Pokemon Go fever in South Mississippi.

If you’ve driven by the Biloxi Lighthouse and Biloxi Visitors Center on Beach Boulevard in the last 30 days or so, you’ve probably noticed many people congregating in the area, most of them looking at their smart phones.

But police on Monday sent a request to the makers of the popular app to remove the lighthouse and visitors center as popular Pokestops.

“We’ve watched this for the past month or so and we’ve had some concerns, mainly with people’s safety because there’s a lot people in close proximity to traffic,” city spokesman Vincent Creel said. “We had no input from the app makers and we have no idea how long it’s going to last.”

Creel said the desist request is in no way intended to punish the game’s players.

“The people using the app are not villains,” he said. “But we are having some traffic issues around the lighthouse and a lot of people are slowing down and being what the police call ‘looky-loos.’ ”

Another factor, Creel said, is the wear and tear on the area.

“When someone rents the visitors center, they get the building, the lawn, the parking lot and the overflow parking lot,” he said. “We’ve had to hire extra security for events and the front lawn of the visitors center is not designed for the amount of people that are using it on a daily basis and there’s starting to be a lot more trash in the area.”

The lighthouse and visitors center join the Coast Coliseum and Biloxi National Cemetery as places where playing the game has been prohibited.

A hope for safer Pokestops

Reaction on social media to Biloxi’s announcement was met mostly with criticism. Several comments left on the city’s Facebook page asked for a new location.

“We don’t want to seem like the bad guys in this,” Creel said. “We’re hoping we can work something out and maybe get Hiller Park or the Seafood Museum added as Pokestops, because they would be safer.”

According to a list created by GulfCoast.org, there are more than 10 Pokestops in Biloxi, including Edgewater Mall.

How it works

Pokemon Go is an app based on the popular Pokemon franchise. It was launched July 6 by Niantic as part of its “real-world” gaming platform. Since its release, it has been downloaded about 100 million times.

The app uses the GPS in the device in which was downloaded to “capture” virtual Pokemon characters in real-life areas.

Pokemon on the Coast

The app has become a popular activity for many Coast residents.

Gulfport city spokesman Chris Vignes said residents are excited about the Pokemon Go phenomenon.

“Pokemon Go is encouraging people to come to Jones Park and use the more-than-40 acres of green space that it has,” Vignes said. “But with any activity, we ask people to to be careful and respectful of others.”

Ocean Springs will have a downtown “Pokecrawl” after Saturday’s community concert series.

On Monday, the Biloxi Shuckers are having a “PokeMonday” at MGM Park and will have several lures during the game as part of the promotion.

Select Gulf Coast Pokestops

Pascagoula beachfront

Ocean Springs beachfront

Biloxi Small Craft Harbor

Biloxi Bay Bridge

Downtown Biloxi

Downtown Gulfport

Jones Park in Gulfport

Downtown Long Beach

Bay St. Louis Train Depot

A complete list of Pokestops can be found at the GulfCoast.org website

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