ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) People across Albuquerque are flocking to Albuquerque parks and other public places trying to “catch ’em all.”

The game was an overnight sensation, a craze now sweeping the nation. It was released last week and, for many people, takes them back to the late 1990s and early 2000s when Pokemon trading cards were all the rage.

“The first one I got was a Pikachu,” Zachary Sais said. “I played when I was a kid, so I just decided to do it again.”

Except, this time around, the Pokemon can be caught, trained and battled in an ‘augmented reality,’ which makes the Pokemon appear to be in the real world through your phone camera.

In order to advance in the game, you have to go outside and visit certain areas to catch Pokemon and gain more experience. Kit Carson park, for example, is a ‘PokeStop,’ where you can do that.

“I just got my eyes glued to the phone,” Sais said.

On Monday, KRQE News 13 saw several people at Albuquerque parks playing the game.

“Last night I went to UNM, I was riding my bike around…I swear, I had never seen that many people outside after 9:30 at night,” Aaron Vega, who doesn’t play the game but knows plenty of people who do, said. “Everyone was [staring at their phones], they were all in groups.”

The activity really picks up after dark, which has prompted a friendly reminder from the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“Academy Hills yesterday, we saw about 20 people with their phones out,” Jen Samp with Parks and Rec. said. “Our parks close at 10 o’clock with the exception of some skate parks and softball fields.”

Samp says people need to be careful, too, by sticking to the trails in Albuquerque parks and Open Space areas. The City doesn’t want people trampling undisturbed nature.

Still, the city is happy to see people out and about.

“Anything that can get people outside and spend time with their loved ones and have a healthy activity and healthy lifestyle, we definitely condone,” Samp said.

Over the weekend, the Albuquerque Fire Department said large groups of people gathered outside two fire stations across town that were spots for people to gain experience in the game.

AFD says it doesn’t mind if people gather at the stations, as long as they don’t block the fire engines and rescues from getting to emergency calls.

There haven’t been any major problems involving the game in Albuquerque, but in Missouri, some players were lured by other players and then robbed. And in Wyoming, a woman stumbled across a dead body while trying to “catch ’em all.”

KRQE News 13 reached out to Albuquerque police, who said in a statement:

We always encourage our citizens to be cognizant of their surroundings and to always use good judgment, regardless of the activity they’re undertaking.

Source: City of Albuquerque